SOCCEROOS coach Holger Osieck and his captain Lucas Neill were forced to defend comments about the Saudi team and their preparation for tonight’s World Cup qualifier.
At Tuesday’s packed pre-game press conference Osieck was quizzed about his comments regarding the Saudis' two-and-a-half week camp in Melbourne.
He’d said he didn’t believe a longer lead-in camp necessarily resulted in better results.
The traveling Saudi journalists – who outnumbered their local counterparts – went on the attack asking whether Osieck had disrespected the Saudi national team with his assessment.
“You see, there is always some confusion when it comes to translation, what you say, and what has been transferred,” Osieck said.
“I personally feel long camps are not necessarily the ones to give you the opportunity. But it’s my personal opinion."
The Saudis arrived two weekends ago and have been in camp and played friendlies against New Zealand teams.
“I never do it but if other coaches go for it, if other coaches think it is a good way to prepare, that may happen as well," said Osieck.
“In football there is no guarantee if you have a three week camp or a two day camp. I would never say anything negative about my colleague whoever that is and does with his team.”
And skipper Neill was also put on the defensive after recent comments, which the Saudi media said had raised anger back home.
He’d said the pressure would be on the Saudis – who need a win to ensure they go through to the next round with the already qualified Socceroos - and he reiterated that message when challenged.
“No, I said the game was so important for Saudi and the expectation from the country that they should be in the next round," he said.
“Therefore they have to win this game. And as Australia, we have to expose that. If they are feeling the pressure we have to make sure they really feel the pressure.
“This is a game we want to win and we know they have to win.”
Osieck reiterated that the game did mean plenty to the Australians, despite the Saudi view that it might be a training run for the Roos.
“No games are meaningless so I cannot agree with that, “ he said.
“I have to make it clear, it’s a very important qualifier for all of us. As you may know, I’m very performance related and I expect from my boys a great performance every game we play.
“If I see any complacency, there’s gonna be a reaction for sure.”
Osieck confirmed that recalled midfielder Mark Bresciano would start against the Saudis.
A possible starting XI for the Socceroos tonight: Schwarzer, Carney, Neill, Ognenovski, North, Milligan, Bresciano, Emerton, Troisi, Brosque, Thompson.
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