Arnold Issues Challenge To Fringe Players
Socceroos assistant coach Graham Arnold has thrown down the challenge to those players not part of the 23 that took part in the matches against Uruguay, to stake their claim for a place in Germany next year.
Socceroos assistant coach Graham Arnold (pictured in white shirt next to Guus Hiddink) has thrown down the challenge to those players not part of the 23 that took part in the matches against Uruguay, to stake their claim for a place in Germany next year.
Arnold said there is no reason why fringe players can-t force their way into the national team reckoning, with strong performances at club level over the next three months.
“Given the time frames to prepare for Uruguay, there wasn-t a lot we could change for the two games,” said Arnold.
”Our goals were short term and we needed the experienced players to do the job for us against Uruguay.
“However we now have seven months to the World Cup and our goals are more longer term, so there is a chance that old and new players can push their claims for a place in Germany.
While conceding that the existing 23 will have front running, Arnold and national team coach Guus Hiddink will be watching very closely what happens both in Europe and Australia.
“We have a lot of players that have played, or been involved in camps with the Socceroos in the last 12 months that didn-t make the squad for the Uruguay matches. They are still very much in contention, as are other players that we have been keeping an eye on and will continue to keep a close eye on.”
While Arnold was reluctant to name any players specifically, he used the example of Ante Covic, who came from nowhere to make the most of his opportunity, after being invited into one of Hiddink-s Dutch-based training camps.
“Ante is a terrific example of someone, who has come from absolutely nowhere and now put himself right in the frame for a place in Germany.
“We invited him to one of training camps and he really impressed and he ended up being our third choice keeper for the play-off games.”
Meanwhile planning is well underway for preparations matches in the lead up to the World Cup finals that start on June 9.
Already confirmed are two Asian Cup qualifying matches to be played on Wednesday February 22nd and Wednesday March 1st. While the draw will not be made until January 4, 2006, indications are the first game will be played away, while the second game will be in Australia.
Given the importance of these two games, the coaching staff is likely to want to have the best squad available, although the first game has potential problems as it clashes with European Champions League and UEFA Cup matches.
By May 14, all national competitions should be completed and after an eight-day FIFA enforced break, players will then be allowed into camp with their respective national teams.
Australia-s players will go into a short camp back in Australia, with at least one game to be played in Australia, before heading off to Europe, where one, if not two more preparation games against other World Cup teams, will be played.
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