Blogs

Holger is the man to show the A-League compassion

by Ben Somerford on Sep 23, 2011

2 comments | | print

Socceroos superstars Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton; the A-League season opener between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC needs them more than Australia in their friendly against Malaysia in Canberra the evening before. That's the simple truth.

However, nothing's ever that simple with football in Australia and don't we all know it.

Unfortunately, Football Federation Australia have decided against re-scheduling the fixture despite the obvious clash it causes and the massive anti-climax it could create.

It's a major shame they've left the final decision to someone else.

Emerton told reporters at his first training session at Sydney FC on Monday: "Obviously the situation is out of my hands and it's for other people to make those decisions. I would love to play if I am able to, but I don't think a decision has been reached as yet."

The decision he's talking about essentially comes down to Socceroos coach Holger Osieck and whether he deems it necessary that the high-profile duo join the squad for the Malaysia friendly.

With all due respect, Malaysia, currently ranked 146th in the world, aren't expected to provide much resistance. However, this decision isn't really about that contest, but rather preparations for the October 11 clash with Oman at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

That game comes just three days after the Melbourne-Sydney clash down at Etihad Stadium. Is that enough time for Kewell and Emerton to link up with the rest of the camp, catch up on the plans and settle in?

If not, are Kewell and Emerton even required for the Oman game? After all, Australia did just knock off Saudi Arabia away and Thailand at home without the former on the park.

However, what's important to remember is the Oman match is a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier. And despite Oman's recent 3-0 loss in Thailand, the Socceroos shouldn't take them lightly. We saw what happened last time we did that, with the Thais giving Australia an awful scare.

It's also worth remembering, Oman are coached by one-time Australia target and ex-Olympique Lyon, Rangers and Cameroon manager Paul Le Guen. He's a shrewd customer who will have been studying up on this clash for some time. They've also got a Premier League goalkeeper in Wigan's Ali Al Habsi and he'll be hard to beat.

For Australia, another home win would be perfect. We know how precious home wins are in these qualifying campaigns as they ease the pressure completely. However, the fact is the Socceroos already have six points from two games and should feel confident at home against Oman, a team ranked 103rd in the world, even without Kewell and Emerton.

Osieck is the man with the call to make. But A-League fans can feel confident the man making the call is a person interested in the A-League's success. Some may not have felt such optimism in his predecessor Pim Verbeek (who we know didn't rate the A-League in terms of its standard) but that's a discussion for another day.

The German tactician has previously talked about his job not simply being as the coach of the Socceroos, but also to help develop the game in Australia. Osieck said in January: ''You're not just restricted to dealing with the Socceroos. That would not be the right approach.”

He added: “Wherever I go, I try to promote the domestic league.” Indeed, it's in these comments and the general sentiments of the endearing German during his time in Australia which offer A-League fans optimism that he'll show compassion and let the duo play for their clubs in that huge Round One clash. If he does, his reputation will only go from strength to strength in Australia.