Holger got what he wanted

by Ben Somerford on Mar 01, 2012

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Wednesday's clash with Saudi Arabia may have been dubbed a 'dead rubber' by some in the media but for a few members of the team (ahem, Mark Bresciano and Alex Brosque) it was far from that. And that was pleasing to see, considering that was Holger Osieck's pre-game mantra.

Indeed, so often the German boss comes out with these standard lines, it can become a bit tiresome. Talk of avoiding complacency, there's no room for experimentation, there's no such thing as a dead rubber and so on and so forth.

I wouldn't be the first person to say it's all a bit dull. However, that's no blight on Osieck as a coach. Some of best press conference performers make ordinary coaches, see Diego Maradona for one.

This week it was all about the game being about competition for places among the team. Osieck called it a qualifier in the sense, the players would qualify to be part of his team.

And he handed opportunities to Bresciano, his first international appearance since the 2010 World Cup, along with the improving Brosque.

The former Sydney FC man hit the winner against Thailand earlier in qualifying and Osieck has shown some faith in him. He does appear to have improved since his move to Japan.

However, Brosque showed more than just improvement on Wednesday. He showed a real desire, making himself available on countless occasions with his back to goal, and eventually as Australia began to control more possession, he got his rewards.

Bresciano, meanwhile, was busy throughout the game, playing a box-to-box midfield type role. His quality at times was there for all to see.

Osieck typically reserves handing out individual praise at post-game conferences and he was reluctant to do so, but journos in the room kept persisting and eventually he offered a positive appraisal of the former Lazio and Palermo man.

"Mark was definitely the game dominating element in midfield," Osieck told reporters after the match. "He brings all the quality and all the ingredients to play this (central) role very efficiently."

For Osieck, Bresciano is like a new signing. And that's great news for the Socceroos.

There were others given a chance on Wednesday, Jade North at right-back, Matt Spiranovic at left-back, as well as Mark Milligan in a holding central midfield role.

None of the Japan-based trio really pressed their cases too much, with all getting found out at times. To be fair, they weren't playing in their natural positions.

Osieck did speak at the press conference about his pleasure in discovering more alternatives although he didn't identify which players he was referring to. You fancy Bresciano and Brosque for starters, along with James Troisi, were those in mind.

With players like Brett Holman, Tim Cahill, Carl Valeri and Mile Jedinak back in Europe, that's only good news for the Socceroos playing stocks, as the qualification campaign moves up a gear with Asia's top 10 nations.

It was a positive finish to third round qualifying for the Socceroos, with Osieck getting exactly what he hoped out of the 'dead rubber'. He continues to retain the respect of the fans.