Preview: Romania v Qantas Socceroos

The Qantas Socceroos will play their first match of a pivotal 2013 when they battle Romania in the Spanish town of Malaga on Thursday morning.

The Qantas Socceroos will play their first match of a pivotal 2013 when they battle Romania in the Spanish town of Malaga on Thursday morning.

Holger Osieck's side will look to gain confidence and momentum from the friendly ahead of next month's crucial 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Oman in Sydney.

Australia are unbeaten in their past six matches - although four of them were East Asian Cup qualifiers - and last tasted defeat in September.

That was a crucial loss, however, as Jordan outclassed them in a 2-1 win in Amman, leaving the Qantas Socceroos in some danger of missing football's biggest party in Brazil next year.

The importance of the Oman match is reflected in the quality of the squad Osieck has chosen.

Several of the players in the selection mix who are based in Australia and Asia had their chance to impress in the East Asian Cup qualifiers, with the German keen to cast an eye over his crop of players who are European-based in this fixture.

Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neill, Mark Bresciano and Luke Wilkshire will provide the experience and they are complemented by the likes of German-based pair Robbie Kruse and Mathew Leckie and FC Utrecht's Michael Zullo.

Middlesbrough captain Rhys Williams, a huge talent capable of playing in a variety of positions, is also included in the 19-man squad.

The Western Australian has missed a series of squads due to persistent injury problems but is now fit and will make his first national team appearance since August last year.

Despite the presence of a strong group of players, Australian fans would be foolish to take Romania lightly.

They are ranked 33rd in the world - three places above the Qantas Socceroos - and have won four of their past six matches in all competitions.

Of those results, two immediately leap off the page, with wins over Turkey and Belgium particularly impressive.

The 1-0 triumph over the Turks in Istanbul was in an all-important World Cup qualifier while a 2-1 friendly win over the Belgians also deserves credit.

With one team automatically going through - which is most likely to be the Netherlands - in Group D of Europe's World Cup qualifying, the likes of Hungary, Romania and Turkey are scrapping away for the second spot which would put them into the playoffs.

Romania are just goal difference behind second-placed Hungary after three wins in four fixtures.

But Victor Piturca's side are coming off a loss, with a squad made up of domestic players losing a friendly 4-1 to Poland on Saturday, also in Malaga.

Piturca decided to rest his senior players but a heavy training load in the build-up to the match backfired as they conceded four times in the first half.

Key attackers Ciprian Marica (Schalke 04) and Adrian Mutu (Ajaccio) will not be playing against the Aussies either, while Roma goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont will also be on the sidelines.

There is still plenty of quality in the Romanian squad with Gabriel Torje (Granada) in particularly good form for his country.

The former Udinese attacker has bagged four goals in his past six appearances.

Defenders Razvan Rat (Shakhtar Donetsk) and Gabriel Tamas (West Bromwich Albion) will also add experience to Piturca's squad.

But Australia will enter the match in buoyant fashion and, with a series of players keen to prove themselves to Osieck, will fancy their chances of claiming victory in Spain.

Broadcast details: LIVE on Fox Sports 645 (AEDT)