Brett Holman says Australia must forget the “long balls” and get back to its slick passing game if it is to re-light its World Cup fire.
The Aston Villa ace, who makes his 57th appearance for his country in the crucial qualifier against Iraq in Doha on Wednesday morning (1am AEDT), believes the Socceroos abandoned its on-the-deck mantra in last month’s shock 2-1 loss to Jordan in Amman, and must quickly return to its roots to capture the three points needed to get back on track for Rio.
“Other than the 3-0 win over Lebanon a couple of games ago, we haven’t really played the way we can over the last few matches and it’s time for us to cut out the long balls, because they aren’t doing us any good,” said the Socceroos strike weapon.
“We really shouldn’t be playing that way. Our strengths in recent years have been to get the ball on the deck and knock it around and build up that way.
"You saw against Lebanon that when we knocked the ball about – especially in the first half – we looked dangerous and that style suits us.
"Obviously, sometimes on certain surfaces you do tend to take no risks and knock it long on occasion but I am sure that won’t be the case in Doha.”
Holman says that the insipid performance against Jordan was a study in what not to do from a Socceroos standpoint but that it is now time to move on.
“It’s a game where you take mainly negatives from and that’s not a bad thing, so long as you learn from them,” he explained.
“It’s not something you look back on fondly: it’s a case of dissecting what went wrong and we have tried to do that. We know we have things to address and work on.”
Voted Aston Villa’s player of the month for September, Holman has made an instant impression under coach Paul Lambert for the Midlands club and after being infected by the malaise which paralysed the entire Socceroos side against Jordan is looking to make immediate amends.
“If you are playing well for your club, you always try and bring that form into the national team and this occasion is no different," he said.
“I’ve been happy with how I’m going at club level but this is a different scenario, different players and a different occasion.
“We’ve had a decent lead-in with the game against UAE being cancelled by the boss and it has given us more time to gel on the training field and given the coach time to address a few things.”
With home games to come against Jordan, Iraq and Oman, Australia is not depending on three points in Doha to keep alive its qualification campaign although it lags third in the group behind Japan and Jordan with two points from three games.
But Holman is not talking about anything other than a win.
“With the quality we have in the squad we shouldn’t be going anywhere with any other mindset of not going for a win,” he said.
“That applies to facing Japan or anywhere else in Asia.”
Holman remains confident Australia can negotiate the pitfalls which currently confront it, insisting: “It’s a long road to qualification and to go all that way and travel to so many destinations, you have to expect the odd speed hump here and there.
“I feel we can concentrate on the positives. If the mindset is that you have doubts about whether you are going to qualify or not then I personally wouldn’t be travelling.
“I’d be staying home and spending time with my family.
“I have no doubts in my mind that we can get through. Of course, something has to change and we have to get some results but I still have the belief. And I presume the rest of the boys share that belief.
“I’ve been to one World Cup (South Africa 2010) and you listen to the boys who have played at two talking about it and it just sharpens your desire. You want to cherish every moment and you really thrive off what they say.”
After nearly a decade in Holland, Holman has adapted quickly to English football, declaring: “There is a transition period. I am just happy I am playing every game. That was my goal when I came over.
“I will just keep my head down and keep working hard.”
UEFA has announced that the Champions League final in 2015 will take place in Berlin's