Farina Goes For Experience In First Leg

Qantas Socceroo coach Frank Farina has named his starting team to face the Solomon Islands tomorrow in the first leg of the Oceania Nations Cup Final in Honiara.

Qantas Socceroo coach Frank Farina has named his starting team to face the Solomon Islands tomorrow in the first leg of the Oceania Nations Cup Final in Honiara.    With a number of players unavailable for selection in the initial squad due to injury and with strikers Harry Kewell and John Aloisi remaining behind in Australia for treatment on their respective injuries, Farina was nevertheless able to name a strong and experienced team for the match.

The starting team for tomorrow's match is: Mark Schwarzer (gk); Lucas Neill, Tony Popovic, Tony Vidmar, Kevin Muscat, Brett Emerton, Simon Colosimo, Josip Skoko, Vince Grella, Ahmad Elrich, Ante Milicic. Substitutes from: Mile Sterjovski, Steve Laybutt, Max Vieri, Luke Wilkshire, Jon McKain, Archie Thompson, Zeljko Kalac (gk).

Farina has opted for experience at the back, with Lucas Neill shifting over to the left full back position, allowing Tony Vidmar (pictured above) to come in alongside Tony Popovic in the centre of defence and Kevin Muscat will come in on the right side.   Popovic, the last player to arrive in camp, came through a solid training session this morning in Honiara, confirming he will be right to take his place in the side.   “He pulled up really well,” said Farina from Honiara. “He had a good night-s sleep last night and he did a full session this morning and I am not expecting any problems with Tony.”   “We had quite a good session. It wasn-t too hot, as it was a little bit overcast, so the sun wasn-t beating down on everyone. It was a little bit humid and different to what they are used to overseas, but they all handled it very well and looked quite sharp this morning.”   Farina had nothing but praise for the condition of the pitch at the Lawson Tama Stadium, even suggesting it might be better than what we expect here in Australia.   “The ground is absolutely magnificent, it-s in really good nick. Everything has been good since we arrived.”   Former Parramatta Power striker Ante Milicic has won the key striking role, with Ahmad Elrich and Brett Emerton as expected playing alongside him in a three-pronged attack that has plenty of pace and should cause the Solomons defence a few headaches.   Simon Colosimo, who now plays with Milicic with the recently crowned Malaysian Champions Pahang, has won the third midfield spot and with Farina saying that he and Vince Grella will be sitting in, allowing Josip Skoko to support the attack.   Despite the expected hot and sticky conditions that should favour the home side, Farina will, as always, be looking for a win to take back to Sydney.   “We always go into games looking to win them and that-s no different tomorrow. It will be a fairly hostile environment, not hostile in a negative way, but I think in terms of a big crowd and a very supportive crowd for the Solomons. But our guys are used to playing in those sorts of conditions and my view hasn-t changed.”   Farina, speaking in the midst of a downpour in Honiara, said it was quite possible that they will encounter such conditions tomorrow, as it has rained at the same time for the past four days.   Asked about the reception the team received upon arrival, Farina confirmed the excitement that this game has brought to the country.   “They are excited to have the Socceroos here and that showed last night. It was about 11-11.30pm when we arrived at the airport and the airport was pretty full, in terms of people there to see the players come in.”   Tomorrow-s match will be refereed by Fijian Leonie Rakaroi.   To keep up-to-date with the game, the ASA website will have regular live updates throughout the match, including all the goals and key moments in the game. The matchcast starts at 1.00pm (AEST).