SOCCEROO Mile Jedinak said his dream run to Wembley has ensured he’s fit and firing ahead of the Aussies' crunch World Cup qualifiers against Japan, Jordan and Iraq next month.
The 28-year-old Crystal Palace skipper is just one game away from securing promotion to the English Premier League and will line up against Watford on Monday in the Championship play-off final.
Jedinak, who Palace assistant coach Keith Millen describes as “the best holding midfielder” in the league says he’s never been in better shape going into the pointy end of the Socceroos campaign.
“After I get this game out of the way it’s going to be good to go into camp,” he told au.fourfourtwo.com from London. “I’m still match fit and match sharp and I think that run-in keeps you in good nick for the (upcoming) games.”
Coach Holger Osieck has named a 26-player squad for the final three qualifiers kicking off with a tough away match against Japan.
The Socceroos are currently in third position in Group B and Jedinak says he can’t see the Aussies playing it safe against the group’s runaway leaders when they face off in Saitama on June 4.
“I think you try to win every game – I don’t know any other way to play it to be honest with you,” he said.
“If you start playing safely and playing for draws things might not go in your favour. I think every time we do step out on the pitch we do go for the win.”
Osieck is under pressure over his conservative team selections and the Socceroos underwhelming on-field performances but the defensive mid maintains there’s no one more committed to the cause.
“You’re always going to have your critics and people are entitled to their own opinion,” Jedinak said.
“Obviously we’d like to be in a more commanding position but it hasn’t been that way so we know we’ve got three big games coming up and we’ve got our future in our own hands.
“He’s our manager at the moment and we’re all in it for the same thing – we’ve all got a big goal of getting to the World Cup and he’s got the job of getting us there.
“Everyone’s fully aware of what’s at stake and what the target is. We’re all fully focused. Holger’s more focused than probably anyone at getting the job done, the way he does things, the way he’s always very on the ball in terms of training and that.
“The focus is there and it’s a good thing to be around to be honest – to have that focus all the time and to know what your next target is. It’s a real joy, a real pleasure working with him.”
Jedinak said no one in the team was underestimating the size of the task ahead.
“It’s never going to be a walk in the park to qualify for a World Cup,” he said. “You’re going to have difficult periods and we’ve had a little bit of a difficult period.
But he added: “I think everyone of us in the group is really looking forward to the challenge.”
Meanwhile Palace’s Player of the Year has backed fans’ plans to boost the crowd support for the final two home games of the campaign.
Jedinak said he hadn’t heard of the newly launched active support group, Terrace Australis, but underlined the importance of creating a fortress at home.
“We always know we’ll get supported well when we come back home, there’s no question about that,” he said.
“Having a fortress like mentality and an intimidating crowd can be really good – it can be difficult for the away teams.
“The last thing you want is for them to feel comfortable when they’re playing us at home and, possibly by setting up group, we might see the benefits of that - definitely.
“Obviously when it’s game time you’re fully focused you may not hear everything but you definitely know it’s there and you know the Australian fans are chanting and supporting you and that’s a great thing to have at the back of your mind.”
The former Central Coast Mariners star is bearing down on 40 caps since his 2008 debut in a friendly against Singapore and counts the 2010 World Cup and scoring twice at the 2011 Asian Cup as personal highlights...so far.
But there’s no doubt that making it to Brazil next year would be right up there.
“It’s one step at a time – I keep saying that,” he said.
“We’ve got a few games to go but if we do eventually get there it will be a huge thing, obviously from a personal point of view.
"But also from a team perspective and for the nation - it would be huge and a great experience to be part of.”