Ange Postecoglou believes the style of football the Caltex Socceroos will face in the two-game Dodoni Series against Greece will be the perfect preparation for the side’s upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
Postecoglou announced his 23-man squad on Tuesday for the games against Greece in Sydney on June 4 and then Melbourne on June 7.
The back-to-back friendlies will be the last time the Socceroos will be together before they kick-off their final stage of qualifying on the road to Russia against Iraq in September.
Postecoglou was born in Greece and admits these games will hold extra special significance for himself and his family but will also be crucial for his side moving forward.
“At the moment it’s a little bit subdued because there’s a lot of big football on around the world but [wait until] they hit our shores…for the Greek community this means a lot,” Postecoglou told reporters on Tuesday.
“And people will see they [Greece] are still a quality team. I was wrapped to play them because they have a new coach, they are building towards the next World Cup.
“They missed the Euros [2016 European Championships] which they are disappointed about but at their best Greece are a formidable opponent and very hard to beat.
“They’ll come here and be very hard to beat which will be great practice for us for what’s ahead and the style of football they play.”
Postecoglou made 10 personnel changes to the squad that will take on England on May 28 (AEST), with Tim Cahill, Matthew Spiranovic, Trent Sainsbury, Mathew Leckie and Nathan Burns the big additions.
Young Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti also gets a re-call – in place of the injured Mitch Langerak – after almost two years in the wilderness, while young fullbacks Jason Geria and Alex Gersbach get another shot after being involved in camp for March’s World Cup qualifiers.
It means Postecoglou will run his eye over 33 players over the three games the side will play in 10 days.
“They are all in there and they will all have an opportunity to play. A lot will depend on how the games are going,” the Socceroos boss said.
“Obviously with the two Greece games one being after the other, I’ll take the opportunity to make sure I get a look at most of the guys. I think it’s important in friendly games to do that but we’ll put out teams we think will be able to play our football.
“We’ll try and give an opportunity to as many as possible but they will still have to earn it in training.
“The good thing about this squad, particularly the Asian players they are literally coming off a game on the weekend so they will be in good condition and the European guys for the most part will have finished in the last couple of weeks.
“This squad being announced today in terms of match fitness – bar one or two – the rest of them will be capable of playing two games in a short space of time.”
After impressing on his debut against Tajikistan in March, striker Apostolos Giannou – who was a youth international with Greece – is also back in the Green and Gold for these games.
He is one of three striking options in the squad alongside Cahill and Jamie Maclaren as Postecoglou hopes to add some depth in that area.
“From my perspective with [Giannou] and hopefully Jamie Maclaren, they get an understanding of what international football is about in the England camp and also this camp and all of a sudden we have two or three options, apart from Timmy [Cahill] who is still banging in goals and still playing well.
“Hopefully we’ve created some good depth in that central striking area where 12 months ago it looked like we might be a bit thin.
“Having Apo and Jamie there getting and opportunity hopefully it means we’ll have a lot more depth going forward.”
Postecoglou said China-based defender Aleksandar Jovanovic and Randers playmaker Mustafa Amini were both close to selection for the Greece matches, with a number of other players also on his radar.
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