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Socceroos’ Sainsbury says it’s advantage Australia

Sydney (AFP) – Australia will have a recovery advantage over Honduras in this week’s return World Cup qualifier after taking a chartered flight home, Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury said on Sunday.

The Australian contingent arrived home Sunday from Honduras, where they fought out a scoreless draw in San Pedro Sula on Friday, giving them an extra day to recover before Wednesday’s second leg in Sydney.  

The Honduras squad are taking a series of commercial flights via the United States and will arrive in Australia almost a full day after the Socceroos, leaving only around 60 hours to acclimatize and prepare for their crunch match.

“Recovery time is very important thing in international football, especially over such distances,” defender Sainsbury told reporters upon arrival.

“Every little bit counts in such big games. Honduras still have a long way to go. We’re already here and we can recover and be fresh.

“That’s an advantage for us and we’ll take every little advantage we can get at the moment.”

Sainsbury, one of the heroes in Australia’s composed 0-0 draw in Honduras, said the Socceroos now had the edge in the match that will decide who makes next year’s World Cup finals in Russia.

“If we can play any team back-to-back we get to know what they’re like and their tendencies,” Sainsbury said.

“So it’s an advantage coming back here on home soil after a good performance away.

“I can’t see them changing many different things. Tactically they might tweak a few things but we’ll be ready.”

The charter flight from San Pedro Sula to Sydney, which reports estimated cost around Aus$1 million ($770,000), enabled the squad to stretch out across the 28 business class seats on board.

A makeshift treatment room was set up dispensing massages and treating sore bodies, while football staff got to work on their analysis on laptops and reviewing highlights ahead of the home leg.

The Australians could also have several fresh players for the second leg in Sydney. 

Mathew Leckie and Mark Milligan are available again after both were suspended for the first leg, German-based Robbie Kruse could return from injury, while the extra recovery time gives team talisman Tim Cahill more chance of battling back from ankle trouble.

“This is do or die, you make a mistake and it could be the end of the road,” Sainsbury said.

“You win and we’re going to Russia. We’ve done it multiple times, there’s always a lot of pressure.

“This team is coming of age now and the next step will be to beat this Honduras team and then have a really good World Cup.”

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