Berger takes bite at first Australia squad

SYDNEY - Caretaker Australia coach Han Berger has called up Everton midfielder Tim Cahill and Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer for the Socceroos' first post-World Cup international away to Slovenia next week.

Thirteen of Berger's 20-man squad for the friendly against fellow World Cup finalists Slovenia represented Australia in South Africa as the Dutchman, recently promoted from technical director, stuck to an entirely overseas-based squad.

Forward Harry Kewell was left out after declaring himself unavailable while his Galatasaray team-mate Lucas Neill is set to captain the side in Ljubljana.

Midfielder Nathan Burns received his first Socceroos call-up since being named for the friendly in Singapore in 2008 after impressing for his club side AEK Athens in pre-season.

Striker Bruce Djite and defender Jon McKain also returned to the squad, named on Tuesday, after missing the World Cup.

No domestic A-League players were considered for the match because of a clash with the start of the new campaign, although Berger said they would be available for the September friendlies against Switzerland and Poland.

"Although the overall strategy is aimed at preparing for 2014 World Cup...our next focus will be around preparing the best squad available for the Asian Cup in Qatar in January," said Berger.

Australia have been drawn with South Korea, Bahrain and India in Group C of the January 7-29 Asian Cup.

Berger also said that Australia were at an 'advanced stage' with the process to name the long term successor to Dutcman Pim Verbeek, who stepped down as head coach after the World Cup.

Follow on Twitter
Join on Facebook