Viduka turns down Australia offer

SYDNEY - Former Australia captain Mark Viduka has turned down the chance to join the Socceroos in their remaining three World Cup qualifiers. Australia coach Pim Verbeek told Viduka he could join the squad if he was willing to make a full commitment to the side. But the striker, out of contract after his English club Newcastle United were relegated from the Premier League last week, told Verbeek he had decided to skip the qualifiers while he contemplated his future. "He told me that after a difficult season he needed a break from football to consider his future plans," Verbeek said in a statement on Saturday. "Mark is currently out of contract and, while he is deciding what to do next, it would be difficult for him to fully concentrate on these important matches for Australia." Viduka captained Australia at the 2006 World Cup in Germany but has not played for his country since the 2007 Asian Cup and missed all the qualifiers so far for 2010. Australia need one point from their three remaining matches to qualify for the finals in South Africa. They play Qatar away on June 6 before home games against Bahrain on June 10 and Japan a week later.