Australia coach recalls China-based footballers for friendlies
Canberra, May 17 (IANS) Australia head coach Age Postecoglou on Tuesday recalled a number of experienced footballers for his 23-man squad to face Greece in a two-match friendly series in Australia next month.
Postecoglou named China-based stars Tim Cahill, Apostolos Giannou and Matthew Spiranovic for the matches, after FIFA rules rendered them ineligible for selection for a friendly match to be played against England next week, reports Xinhua.
With the matches to take place in Sydney on June 4 and in Melbourne on June 7, Postecoglou said he selected a squad which would best prepare the Socceroos for the next round of World Cup qualifiers later in the year.
“The matches against Greece are about continuing to expose our players to a high level of international football,” Postecoglou told the press.
“The competition and intensity of these matches will definitely give us the right preparation for the next round of World Cup qualifiers and the Confederations Cup.
“Playing in front of big home crowds is an opportunity both for the players and the fans to build on the great atmosphere that has been created during the first round of World Cup qualifiers in Perth, Canberra, Adelaide and Sydney.”
The head coach added that, while often playing Asian powerhouses was a great test for his squad, “varying” the opponents to include high-profile European nations would give the Socceroos experience in playing the Western style of football.
“The Asian Cup and the first round of World Cup qualifiers put our focus on Asian teams and conditions but it’s important to confront a range of styles,” said Postecoglou.
“Greece will present a different set of technical and tactical challenges and they have many players at the top level in Europe.
“Of course, the Greek Australian community will have special affinity to the matches and that will add to the occasion in Sydney and Melbourne.”
The 23-man squad to face Greece:
Adam Federici (Bournemouth), Mark Birighitti (Newcastle Jets), Mat Ryan (Valencia), Josh Risdon (Perth Glory), Brad Smith (Liverpool), Bailey Wright (Preston North End), Trent Sainsbury (Jiangsu Suning), Jason Geria (Melbourne Victory), Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg), Ryan McGowan (Henan Jianye), Matthew Spiranovic (Hangzhou Greentown), Chris Ikonomidis (Lazio), Jackson Irvine (Ross County FC), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Mark Milligan (Baniyas), Aaron Mooy (Melbourne City), Tom Rogic (Celtic), Robbie Kruse (Bayer Leverkusen), Jamie Maclaren (Brisbane Roar), Nathan Burns (FC Tokyo), Tim Cahill (Hangzhou Greentown), Apostolos Giannou (Guangzhou R&F), Mathew Leckie (Ingolstadt).