No surprises by Australia but Qatar drop veteran Soria from Asian Cup squads
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou has included just seven of the squad that reached the final of the 2011 Asian Cup in his 23-man party for the country’s third assault on the continental title on home soil next month.
Postecoglou has overhauled his playing group since taking over from Holger Osieck in October last year, and there were never going to be many surprises in the squad he named yesterday given the number of players he has used since.
“I’m pretty pleased with the squad we’ve put together,” the coach said of his ambitions for the tournament as Australia aim to go one better than the 2011 staging, when they reached the final before losing 1-0 to Japan in Doha.
“There’s enough experience in there but there’s also a little bit of an eye to the future with some younger players who I believe can be exciting prospects.”
Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones was not included but the main marquee names playing abroad, such as Tim Cahill, likely captain Mile Jedinak and Robbie Kruse, will all assemble for a pre-tournament training camp in Melbourne on Saturday.
“The last six months has been about making sure we had cover in the right areas,” Postecoglou said.
“We will never compromise the path we started 12 months ago that the majority of this team fits into the next four-year cycle and what we are trying achieve.
“From our perspective, we’re pretty comfortable with this group that they’ll all be available and, more importantly, capable of playing out the whole tournament.”
Seven players in the squad are playing in the domestic A-League, including Wellington Phoenix striker Nathan Burns, who forced his way back into the reckoning with 10 goals in 11 games this season.
“Form’s one thing but there’s always the question of whether they fit in with the football that we want to play and fit into the evolution of this team,” Postecoglou said.
“If you are a striker and scoring goals that’s a pretty compelling argument for getting you in the team.”
Cahill, Kruse and Burns were among five forwards selected along with World Cup standout Matthew Leckie and Tomi Juric, whose goals helped Western Sydney Wanderers win the Asian Champions League.
“We specifically picked more attacking options because of the nature of this tournament,” Postecoglou said.
“If you look at games of football, they are usually won in the last part of the game and if you can throw some attacking options on it can help.”
Australia open their campaign against Kuwait in Melbourne on January 9 in Group A before taking on Oman and South Korea.
QATAR DROP 100-CAP VETERAN SORIA
Experienced striker Sebastian Soria was left out of Qatar’s 23-man squad for next month’s Asian Cup with the Gulf Cup of Nations holders opting for uncapped African-born forwards Tresor Kangambu and Mohammed Montari.
Soria won his 100th cap for Qatar in October and marked the milestone by scoring in a 3-0 success over fellow Asian Cup finalists Uzbekistan but missed the squad for the Gulf Cup tournament the next month.
Soria, 31, has continued to score goals for Qatar Stars League champions Lekhwiya but national coach Djamel Belmadi opted against a recall for the tournament in Australia.
The Algerian instead went for the Congolese-born Kangambu, a wide forward who plays alongside Soria at Lekhwiya, and El Jaish’s striker Montari, who was born in Ghana.
Kangambu, 27, moved to Qatar four years ago, while Montari, 21, has been in a rich vein of form for his club side.
The duo joined Asian Player of the Year nominee Khalfan Ibrahim in the squad with the Al Sadd playmaker recalled after missing the Gulf Cup because of injury.
Qatar have been drawn alongside the UAE, Bahrain and Iran in Australia.
The Qataris have warm-up matches against Estonia and Oman next week before they kick-off in Canberra on January 11 against the UAE.
Published: December 23, 2014 04:00 AM