Australia coach Osieck pins hopes on old legs

MELBOURNE - New Australia coach Holger Osieck will put off grooming the Socceroos' next generation until after the 2011 Asian Cup, instead relying on World Cup veterans for the Qatar tournament in January.

The German will take the helm for Australia's friendlies against Switzerland and Poland early next month and has named a 20-man squad including 16 members from the South Africa World Cup touring party.

Osieck said the squad, which reunites seasoned midfielders Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill with 37-year-old goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, would form the vanguard of Australia's Asian Cup campaign given there was little time to assess other players.

"I don't know how it's going to evolve in the future but you have to start somewhere and you cannot make radical change with the players you don't even know," Osieck told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday.

"It's a major tournament and I want to go there with a team that definitely has the option to be not only successful but probably finish the tournament on top.

"So if you have players with the experience of two World Cups and playing in decent leagues domestically, then the likeliness to achieve the target is greater than just playing inexperienced 19, 20-year-old boys."


The Pim Verbeek-led Socceroos were bundled out of the South Africa finals in the first round, fuelling media speculation the Dutch coach's replacement would rush to blood new players to rebuild in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Although Osieck is sticking with the stalwarts, who include World Cup captain Lucas Neill and midfielder Brett Emerton, the German threw a lifeline to Middlesbrough forward Scott McDonald despite his barren goal tally at international level.

Midfielders Nathan Burns and Matthew Spiranovich and Norway-based defender Jade North were the other three non-World Cup squad members included.

Injury-prone Kewell, who has become engaged in a public spat with Robbie Slater after the former Socceroo called for him to stand down, had shown enough with Turkish side Galatasaray to warrant a place in the national side, Osieck said.

"I had a chat to Harry and I was impressed by his attitude, by his approach, by his commitment to the team... and on the pitch he did play a decent performance, so I don't see any reason not to pick him."

Osieck sought to avoid comparison with his predecessor Verbeek, who despite steering the Socceroos to World Cup qualification, was unpopular in Australia for overseeing a defensive-minded game and for trashing the domestic league.

"I don't want to compare my style of playing and my intent of the game to what Pim had, I would never question any measures of coaching colleagues," he said.

"I think if you go into a fixed system with a game then you might get stuck in some phase of the game, but if you have the opportunity to adapt to a game situation, to vary and change your style of play then you are in a good position.

"But for that you need different types of players."

Australia has been drawn in Group C with South Korea, India and Bahrain for the January 7-27 Asian Cup.

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