Qantas Socceroos head coach Holger Osieck talks to footballaustralia.com.au associate editor Michael Cockerill about his squad to face Oman.
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck goes one-on-one with footballaustralia.com.au associate editor Michael Cockerill after releasing his squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifier against Oman.
Q. Thanks for your time Holger. You're getting ready for three of the last four World Cup qualifiers being at home. Are you expecting maximum points (nine) from those games? A. Well, as many points as possible.
Q. What about top spot. Have you looked at the table and considered the possibility of finishing above Japan? A. Well I don't consider anything other than qualifying. That is what really matters.
Q. You've been around the world lately talking to a lot of players. Tell us about the mood of the players, and are you putting pressure on them to perform? A. Well basically the players are ready, everybody is looking forward to it, they're in a good spirit and they're going to show it on the pitch as well.
Q. Can we talk about Oman. Are they dangerous opponents? A. They definitely are. They have some good elements, such as discipline, they really defend in numbers, they attack, mostly with counters, with some very dangerous strikers. They have a lot of pace up front. They shouldn't be underrated at all.
Q. People who know Omani football talk a lot about (playmaker) Fawzi Bashir. He didn't play in the away match in Muscat, but will be available for this match. Have you focused on him at all? A. He's one of those guys who plays in the inside midfield position. There's two of three more who also play in his position and, whatever, they're all very much alike, they're all very enduring runners, they have that typical stamina that those people provide. It's in their nature. It doesn't matter whether he's playing, or the others. They're all pretty much on the same level.
Q. If we can talk about the Socceroos. Obviously your captain, Lucas Neill, is out with suspension. What sort of loss is that? A. Well, to not have your captain on board is always a little bit of a problem, because he should be steering the ship through unquiet waters, when things don't go right during a game. But I'm sure, on the other side, all the boys who will be on the pitch will try hard, and compensate for that.
Q. Are you particularly concerned about central defence for this game? A. I had a good look at all the boys that I invited. They played a couple of games, and did well. Sometimes alongside Lucas, sometimes we played without Lucas anyway. They all did pretty well. I'm confident whoever is in that position will do a good job.
Q. Is Mile Jedinak an option for you in central defence? A. Mile does well in holding midfield. I've seen a couple of (Crystal Palace) games recently on TV, and he plays a pretty prominent role there. I don't think I will do him any good if he plays in a more defensive role.
Q. There were some questions about the value of the East Asian Championship qualifiers in Hong Kong (last December), but you've picked six players from that squad for this game. It must have been a useful exercise after all? A. Actually it was a very valuable experiment. It gave me a good picture of what people can do on the international level. You can see the result.
Q. There are also six Hyundai A-League players in this squad. Is that a show of faith from you in the local competition? A. I always supported the A-League. I get a lot of quality from that. The only negative thing is that the season is way too short.
Q. There's a lot of hype around Tom Rogic. Is it too soon for him to start this match? A. There's a lot of expectations regarding Tommy, he's a highly talented player. But to burden him with all those expectations would be too premature.
Q. Three players (Mile Jedinak, Luke Wilkshire and Tim Cahill) are sitting on suspensions going into the Oman game. Does that affect your thinking? A. I'm not worried at all. We have to play full pace, full committment, and whatever comes up, comes up. I'm very confident I have enough depth to compensate for any losses (suspensions).
Q. Finally, you've been coaching professionally for 36 years but never gone to a World Cup as a head coach. Are you allowing yourself to dream about Brazil? A. Of course it's a big target. I want to be there. I've already experienced seven World Cups in different functions, but I try everything to sit on the bench at the next one.
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