Australia retains aging squad for crucial clash
Australia coach Holger Osieck has resisted calls to overhaul his aging squad for the crucial World Cup qualifying match against Iraq despite a shock 2-1 defeat away to Jordan last month.
Osieck made only three changes in his 22-man squad announced Wednesday for the Oct. 16 Asian qualifier at Doha, Qatar, with David Carney, Sasa Ognenovski and Jason Davidson omitted.
Australia trails unbeaten Japan (10) and Jordan (4) and - with two points from three matches - is only in front of Iraq and Oman on goal difference. The top two teams in each group qualify automatically for Brazil 2014.
Utrecht midfielder Tommy Oar has been recalled along with Carl Valeri and Mark Milligan to a squad containing veterans Tim Cahill, now with the New York Red Bulls, Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neill and Mark Bresciano.
Australia came under heavy criticism for its fragile defense against Jordan, putting extra pressure on skipper Neill following the departure of three defenders who were involved in that match.
''We know we are in a very special situation right now,'' Osieck said. ''This has become a crucial game but I'm very confident with the players available we can do it and get the points that we need.''
Osieck said while he hadn't lost patience with the veteran players, he was urging them to be better leaders.
''I have to be very critical. I expect in particular from what you call senior players the guidance for the entire group,'' he said. ''It's not enough to enter the pitch and do some stuff and after the final whistle you are relieved of your duties. It's ongoing, starting from the moment we arrive in our hotel to when we depart.''
The third place team in each group goes into a series of regional and intercontinental playoffs for another spot at Brazil, making every point important with only five qualifying matches remaining.
Australia squad: Mark Bresciano, Alex Brosque, Tim Cahill, James Holland, Brett Holman, Mile Jedinak, Brad Jones, Robbie Kruse, Mitch Langerak, Ryan McGowan, Matt McKay, Mark Milligan, Lucas Neill, Jade North, Tommy Oar, Nikita Rukavytsya, Adam Sarota, Mark Schwarzer, Matthew Spiranovic, Archie Thompson, Carl Valeri, Luke Wilkshire.