Australian captain Lucas Neill is excited by the squad announced by Holger Osieck for next week’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia, saying it will be a perfect opportunity for some new faces to press their claims.
Australian captain Lucas Neill is excited by the squad announced by Holger Osieck for next week-s Saudi Arabia FIFA World Cup qualifier, saying it will be a perfect opportunity for some new faces to press their claims.
Osieck named just three European based players in his 19-man roster to face the Saudis next Wednesday at Melbourne-s AAMI Park, with the remainder of the squad plying their trade across Asia or in the Hyundai A-League.
Neill is one of the many Qantas Socceroos who is now based in Asia having linked with United Arab Emirates champions Al Jazeera last year.
The long-serving skipper says a tough outing against west Asian giants Saudi Arabia will be a rigorous examination for those wishing to force their way into contention leading up to Brazil 2014.
“I think there-s a great opportunity for the young guys to impress their manager and their team-mates,” said Neill.
“As an international and a World Cup qualifier it-s an important game and these guys are getting a taste of international football. They will have to adapt, they know one mistake could be the one that costs the team.”
“It-s important they express themselves because that-s why they have been picked and hopefully they carry that club form into the camp.”
Three uncapped players feature in the squad - Erik Paartalu, Michael Marrone and Mat Ryan - while a host of players have been brought in after varying degrees of absence including Mark Bresciano, Michael Thwaite, Nick Carle and David Carney.
Neill, whose own international career is now in its 15th year, had words of encouragement for the three Hyundai A-League-based debutants.
“First they have to be picked to play but I would imagine they will have a big sense of pride and I-m sure they have worked very hard and sacrificed a lot to get in this position,” said Neill.
“But you have to focus and concentrate on the job at hand, if they take this opportunity then hopefully they do get in Holger Osieck-s head and feature for the Socceroos.”
Another feature of Osieck-s squad is the presence of veteran campaigners Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton. The Hyundai A-League poster boys have the chance to now also be flag bearers for the domestic competition on the international stage - a fact not lost on Neill.
“It-s always great to have those guys in the squad they bring the experience and great professionalism,” said Neill. “It-s good to see them playing well in the A-League and then being picked in the national team and great justification for their move.”
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