Socceroos oblivious to pressure: Irvine
A loss to the Saudis will likely pitch the Australians on a rocky play-off road to next year’s World Cup.
But Irvine says players aren’t feeling the pressure surrounding Thursday night’s fixture.
“Absolutely not. We don’t ever look at it that way,” Irvine told reporters on Tuesday.
“Obviously, of course mathematically it can be viewed as such an important game.
“But our mentality, our process of what we’re trying to build, will never change.”
Australia sit in third spot in the group, three points shy of the Saudis and leaders Japan, with three games remaining.
The top two nations earn direct passage to next year’s World Cup in Russia but the third-placed country is forced into play-off rounds.
“Not once has anyone talked about a make-or-break situation or a high-pressure situation,” Irvine said.
“We know that this is about a longer process of us building something a lot more significant than just doing everything we can to qualify in one game.
“We will keep playing the way we have been taught and with the system we believe in and putting our principles into practice.
“We know that with the ability of the individuals we have got, combined with the plan that we put together, if we perform at our levels than we’re capable of winning the game comfortably.”
Irvine hoped the fixture against the Saudis continued his breakout season.
The 24-year-old started the past two games for Australia and was named Burton Albion’s player of the season, his feats helping the club remain in the English Championship.
“It’s a year that I could have only dreamed how well it could have gone at domestic level,” he said.
Irvine was now attracting interest from other clubs but said he was putting his club future on hold while with the Socceroos.
After the Saudi game, Australia meet Brazil in a friendly in Melbourne before a Confederations Cup campaign in Russia.
“My full focus is on the next few weeks here because this is going to be a huge month in the development of this team,” he said.
“And it’s a chance for us to make another marker in how we’re moving forward, and hopefully the results reflect that.”
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