It’s a mixture of young and old as coach Holger Osieck calls up two new faces, another hoping to make his on-pitch debut and a couple of experienced warhorses for the Socceroos World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia.
Mat Ryan or Mark Bresciano: take your pick of who was the bigger surprise, with neither featuring on the radar before the squad announcement.
“It wouldn’t have made sense to bring another keeper out from Europe just to sit him on the bench, so I looked at the local seen and Matty Ryan is part of the Under 23s and I monitor all of the A-League players very closely,” said Osieck about Ryan’s shock inclusion.
“I’m very frequently at the games and he is definitely one of the upcoming goalkeepers in Australia along with Mitch Langerak or other younger keepers that are at the start of their career,” added the gaffer.
He was just as candid about the inclusion of UAE-based midfielder Bresciano, who will make his first appearance for the national team since the 2010 World Cup.
Bresciano has enjoyed a new lease on life since his switch from Serie A, and Socceroos’ fans will hope to see the popular midfielder reprise his famous ‘Spartacus’ celebration at AAMI Park.
“He has got the opportunity to sort out a lot of stuff that I wasn’t aware of and that he wanted to explain for me and due to the fact he was ready to play for us again and he plays regularly for his club team, scores regularly for his club team, I decided I was ready to bring him in,” explained Osieck about Bresciano’s return.
“Now I think he is mentally and from his entire attitude is ready to be back – on the other hand we have to face one thing, we are starting a long campaign to Brazil and though I was quite pleased with the progress we have made so far we still need additional experience and quality and Mark has been around for quite a while and played in Serie A and I still expect from him that he can help our team.”
The dead-ball expert has some familiar faces to keep him company, with Osieck calling up Sydney FC star Brett Emerton and Melbourne Victory ace Harry Kewell.
Two goals against Brisbane Roar signalled a Kewell in form, and the veteran attacker still has enough in his legs to cause the Saudi defence problems.
Where on the pitch he will do that has already been decided, with Osieck categorically stating he will use Kewell as a striker.
That’s a smart move against a side which doesn’t always fare well against mobile strike forces, particularly with beanpole Nagoya Grampus striker Josh Kennedy missing in action.
That could herald a change of tactics against the Saudis, with vibrant Melbourne Victory striker Archie Thompson and Sydney FC playmaker Nicky Carle also named in the squad.
Osieck praised Thompson’s “positive character” and said the Victory star deserves his chance.
“Archie is a very special player and he does a lot of work for the team and is a handful for every defence he plays,” he said.
“Right now he is in a phase where he doesn’t have that little bit of luck to score but I am 100 per cent convinced in the way he plays the way he works and with the imagination and working for the team he is going to be there again and hopefully is going to score and do it on the Wednesday.”
With the likes of Thompson, Kewell, Carle and newcomers Erik Paartalu and Michael Marrone all desperate to get on the pitch, there will be a strong A-League flavour to the side that runs out against the Saudis.
That’s guaranteed to sort out a few pub arguments, with some of Australia’s most highly-rated domestic-based players set to match it with a side historically rated as one of Asia’s best.