Ned Zelic analyses the Qantas Socceroo squad and says Holger Osieck has shown he is not afraid to test players at international level with the upcoming Saudi Arabia match providing an opportunity for A-League players to seize the moment.
With the squad selection for the Saudi Arabia match there were clearly important issues to be considered.
The game is a dead rubber for us, but still it was vital to put a squad together that can get a positive result, that will do us proud as a nation and also keep our integrity intact, considering other teams in the group are still fighting for qualification.
Along with this, it's a great opportunity for many players to show where their level is at, which, combined with a few surprise selections Holger Osieck has made, automatically increases our level of curiosity as to how some of the players are performing.
The inclusion of Mark Bresciano is a surprise, but a welcome one. Bresciano has been an excellent player for the national team and a player that I have always enjoyed watching in the green and gold. A player that is clever, a schemer, always lurking in and around the penalty area, and always good for a goal. He has also, let us not forget, played in Serie A - one of the world-s top leagues.
Now plying his trade in the UAE - a league that standard-wise is a big drop from where he has been for most of his career - it will be interesting to see if his game has lost the intensity needed to secure a spot in the Socceroo set-up. If he can prove himself it would be a huge advantage for us entering the final phase of qualifying to have someone with Bresciano's quality and experience.
David Carney is another surprise selection and a huge question mark hangs over his head as it does with the left back position in general. Carney has proven that he is good at going forward, but defensively has made too many mistakes.
All defenders make mistakes, but Carney's have been glaring - mistakes that have shown he is still nowhere near being solid defensively against good opposition because he's not a defender and in my opinion never will be one - his qualities are in attack.
It is good to see A-League players being given a chance, but I would have liked to have seen Joshua Rose and Ivan Franjic given a chance, both have deserved it. Both are solid defensively and also have an attacking style of play to compliment the philosophy that Holger Osieck has implemented and the style we all want to see.
Giving A-League players an opportunity has set off a chain reaction within the league. Those selected are given a boost and those that are not are still given hope that positive performances will be rewarded eventually. The league as a whole benefits from players given a realistic chance for national team selection and Osieck might not always get it right with the players he picks.
However, with the number of our players competing in top European leagues slowly declining, the opportunity for A-League players to gain selection, and make the most of it, has never been so good.
The game against Saudi Arabia will give many an opportunity to be considered in future games or might just be the end for some players. With the last phase of World Cup qualifying nearing, Holger Osieck-s squad and, more importantly, starting side, needs to take shape. Competition for places is all well and good, but cohesion is vital for the next tough phase of qualifying.
Football is unpredictable with injuries and players going through rough patches of form, but Holger Osieck-s task has been made more complicated with several players at an age where they are under the ‘form microscope- more than ever.
What Osieck has done is show with some surprising team selections in the past that nobody is safe, that he has a ‘Plan B- which has worked against previous opposition. Osieck knows though that the last phase of qualifying requires Plan A to get us through and the game against Saudi Arabia will give us answers as to who could be a part of that plan.