Uzbek-based Aussie Jelicic gives Socceroos gameplan

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Uzbekistan-based Australian coach Mirko Jelicic has urged the Socceroos to test the aerial ability of the White Wolves goalkeeper and control their ageing playmaker in Tuesday's (AEDT) Asian Cup round of 16 encounter.

The 53-year-old former Perth Glory fitness coach has spent the best part of the last decade coaching in the central Asian nation and is an assistant with Uzbekistan champions Lokomotiv Tashkent.

A key element to Uzbekistan coach Hector Cuper's plans will be veteran midfielder Odil Ahmedov.

However, Jelicic believes Uzbekistan's over-reliance on the 31-year-old could be an area for the Socceroos to exploit.

"He's been the main focus the last seven or eight years ... it's starting to work against them a little bit, I feel, because he's a little bit past his prime and yet he's such a big figure in Uzbek football that he's a little bit overly respected," Jelicic said.

"They tend to look for him too often and I think it undermines their natural play in terms of letting other people do their bit.

"They'll look for him a lot but he's lost his capacity to have a huge influence on the game.

"He's still very good, don't get me wrong, but not at the level he was four or five years ago."

Uzbekistan's 35-year-old goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov plays at Lokomotiv and Jelicic believes the experienced shot-stopper is a potential weak link in their team.

"Aerially, has probably been his biggest downfall, with the Aussies having at times that sort of game where they're getting balls into the box then that could possibly pose a problem for him," Jelicic said.

The recent appointment of veteran Argentine Cuper, who took up the Uzbekistan job after leading Egypt in last year's FIFA World Cup, makes for an intriguing knockout clash in Al Ain between two teams settling into life under new head coaches.

Jelicic expects Cuper to keep his gameplan simple in an attempt to stifle the Socceroos' front three of Awer Mabil, Chris Ikonomidis and Jamie Maclaren.

"They'll sit and try to absorb some of that forward pressure because the Aussies do get numbers forward," he said.

"You've got six, sometimes seven, players in pretty high forward positions which then leaves your backline open a little bit.

"With the speed they've got up front and the technical players that could be something they possibly try to exploit."

Graham Arnold has confirmed Mathew Leckie will be on the bench for Australia and could make his first appearance of the tournament.

The 27-year-old has been recovering from a hamstring injury suffered before the tournament but returned to full training on Friday.

The winner of Monday's (0100 Tuesday AEDT) clash between the Socceroos and Uzbekistan will face the UAE or Kyrgyzstan in Al Ain in the quarter-finals on Friday (Saturday AEDT).

Source AAP