Aussies pounce on tickets for Italy clash

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> It's uncharted territory for the Australians with Monday's game against Italy, their first appearance in the World Cup knockout stage ever.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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It's uncharted territory for the Australians with Monday's game against Italy, their first appearance in the World Cup knockout stage ever. If they'd known earlier, the Socceroo fans would have probably camped the night outside to grab the tickets of this much-awaited clash. "Just got here early and lined up, beat everyone to the race and so it's great and we need to get to the finals. So if anyone has got tickets to the final, let us know," said a fan. An extra 1,500 tickets went on sale over the weekend. It was a hush-hush affair with the time and place of the sale kept secret till Saturday morning when the details were released on the Australian FA website. "Ecstatic mate! You don't know how much this means to me to watch it with three of my other mates in the next round. Absolutely amazing. I can't believe it!" said another fan. Guus Hiddink got Australia to qualify for the World Cup after 32 years. His tactical genius makes him one of the most influential coaches in world football right now. The Dutch coach took South Korea to the semi-finals in the last edition and one of the teams they beat on route to that run was Italy. Overwhelming favourites No wonder then that the Italians are taking Australia seriously even though the three time champions are overwhelming favourites to reach the quarterfinals. "They are a team that believes in itself. They move well. They don't play a defensive game. They attack and get all they can out of their abilities," said Gianluigi Buffon, Goalkeeper, Italy. Italy are likely to play 4-4-1-1 combination against the Aussies with Totti behind the sole striker Gilardino. The goal scorer from last game Materazzi replaces Alessandro Nesta as the second centre-back. Australia will have Mark Shawrzer in goal once again after Zeljko Kalac made a serious blunder against Croatia. However Australia's biggest worry is the fitness of Harry Kewell. His absence could certainly be a worry as they try to take on a team which has been unbeaten since October 2004. That means Italy haven't lost a game from their last 21. "Yet again we look forward to going into the game very much as underdogs with an Italian team full of experience, full of talent and team that's expected to win. "Not just in the opinion of themselves but the opinion of most of the world. So very much a David versus Goliath match. But we'll give them the best game we possibly can," said Lucas Neill, Defender, Australia. Brave words from the Wizards of Oz who in fact are playing Italy in an international game for the first time. (With AP inputs)

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