Schwarzer Can't Wait To Play At Home Again

Mark Schwarzer sounded like any keen kid that by Monday counts down the days till his next game of soccer on the weekend. However for the Socceroo and Middlesbrough goalkeeper, in his case he simply can’t wait for next week to arrive when he can fly home and play for Australia on home soil once again.

Mark Schwarzer sounded like any keen kid that by Monday counts down the days till his next game of soccer on the weekend. However for the Socceroo and Middlesbrough goalkeeper, in his case he simply can-t wait for next week to arrive when he can fly home and play for Australia on home soil once again.

For Schwarzer (pictured right), the two-match series against Turkey, followed by the OFC Nations Cup/World Cup qualifiers, it also presents the first time he has been back to Australia since the World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay in 2001.

“I am really excited about coming home,” said Schwarzer, as he was driving to training in readiness for Middlesbrough-s final game of the season this weekend.

“I am really looking forward to going home to play in front of the Australian public again,” he added.

Schwarzer dismissed the notion that coming back to Australia to play in these games is a burden after having played such a long season.

“I-ve no problems whatsoever. It is a long season, but year after year it-s the same and for me personally, everytime I get together with the national team especially at the end of the season, you get a new lease of life.”

Australia will meet Turkey on Friday May 21 at Aussie Stadium in Sydney and followed by a second game in Melbourne on Monday May 24 at the Telstra Dome. The following weekend in Adelaide, the Socceroos will then play in the week long OFC Nations Cup, which is doubling up as Stage 2 of the 2006 World Cup qualifiers.

The two games against Turkey, currently 8th in the FIFA World Rankings, will provide Schwarzer and his Australian team mates with a good test, as they are sure to bring a virtual full strength squad for the short tour.

“Obviously they are a very good side and they did very well in the last World Cup. They were a little bit hit and miss with the European Championship qualifiers, starting off very well and then faded away towards the end.

“They have some very good players, good players in the best leagues in the world. They are going to be very competitive side; any side they send out, I-m sure is going to be a very strong team and good competition for us.”

The Turkey matches however are merely the prelude to the more important games a week later where Australia will battle it out with New Zealand and four other teams from Stage 1 of Oceania Nations Cup/World Cup qualifying games that started today in Samoa and the Solomon Islands.

In a break from normal tradition, Australia will play New Zealand in the opening game of the six-team tournament, which will see each team play five games over a nine-day period. The top-two teams will then play-off in October of this year in a two-legged final of the Nations Cup (winner also qualifies for 2005 Confederations Cup) plus will meet again in late 2005 in the Oceania World Cup play-off.

So the two games against Turkey are vital preparation, especially with the match against arch rival and main danger New Zealand just five days after the second match.

“The better the competition, the better it is for us,” Schwarzer said. “We have done very well over the last 18 months against a lot of highly talented sides and got some good results.

“It just shows when you can play against sides of Turkey-s calibre and their rating on the world stage; it-s a great opportunity to show the world and especially the Australian public that we can match it with these highly rated sides of the world.”

While conceding the qualifiers were a different kettle of fish and a step down in standard to Turkey, Schwarzer doesn-t think the Nations Cup will be cake walk like everyone expects.

“All games will be difficult and we can-t afford any complacency, said Schwarzer rather emphatically. “We did that a few seasons ago and we missed out on qualification for the Confederations Cup in France. You-ve got to be on the top of your game.”

Having been involved in two previous World Cup campaigns (1994 & 2002), Schwarzer believes the players are more committed than ever to be only the second Socceroo team to make a World Cup finals.

“The older you get as a player, they (World Cup-s) take on a different meaning as you go along, because you start to realise you haven-t many left in you.

“You always have a different approach when each World Cup campaign comes along and especially for myself and several of the players I have spoken to, is that this could possibly be the last chance.

“Not only that, I think it-s possibly our best opportunity to qualify because of the players that are playing in Europe week in, week out and playing at the highest level.”   For more information on how to obtain tickets for the Socceroo matches, simply click on the button located on the right side of the home page, simply named Socceroo Ticket Information.  

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