Australia train for World Cup playoff

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Australia began training in Argentina on Tuesday for its World Cup playoff in Uruguay.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Buenos Aires:

Australia began training in Argentina on Tuesday for its World Cup playoff in Uruguay to avoid a repeat of the unruly treatment from Uruguayan fans four years ago. The Socceroos, attempting to reach the World Cup finals for the first time since 1974, play Uruguay on Saturday in Montevideo in the opener of a series, which will conclude on November 16 in Sydney. The last Australian team members arrived on Monday night, and coach Guus Hiddink scheduled two practices a day before the team takes a short plane ride on Friday across the River Plate estuary to the Uruguay capital. In 2001 when the same sides also met in a playoff, the Australians complained their players were spat upon and Uruguayan fans repeatedly harassed them. It took the intervention of Australian diplomatic personnel to quieten things down, and this time Uruguayan soccer authorities have said they will ensure there will be no repeat of the fan incidents. Australia midfielder Vince Grella played in Montevideo four years ago, and recalled the endless taunts, but said he has prepared to block out all distractions. Most of the pre-match drama has been sparked by each country's ruling bodies. Australia turned down a request by Uruguay to play the game a day earlier, Uruguay has fussed over the referees, and now Uruguay has put in a last-minute request to start the game four hours earlier than its scheduled 9 pm kickoff so it can make the last commercial flight out of South America for next week's game in Australia. Australia has said it would be happy with a 7 pm (2100 GMT) kickoff, but any change was yet to be ratified by FIFA. (AP)

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