More mind games from new Socceroos coach Pim Dominoqq Verbeek who stunned the Australian media this morning by announcing a 39-man squad for the Socceroos’ upcoming World Cup qualifier against Qatar at Melbourne’s Telstra Dome on February 6.
Only 25 players were expected to be named.
The unwieldy size of the group can be attributed to the influx of 19 of Australia’s Europe-based stars which again does not include Newcastle United striker and World Cup captain Mark Viduka.
However Liverpool’s Harry Kewell, Palermo’s Mark Bresciano, West Ham’s Lucas Neill and Everton’s Tim Cahill have been included.
They are not expected to jet in to Melbourne until 48 hours before kickoff.
Uruguayan-Australian striker Richard Porta, who recently transferred from Montevideo’s Club Atlético River Plate to Siena in Serie A, was not selected. He is tipped to choose between representing Uruguay or Australia next month.
Australia’s forward line will almost surely be led by Celtic’s Scott McDonald, with either Karlsruher SC’s Josh Kennedy or Central Coast Mariners’ John Aloisi as support, depending on Verbeek’s preferred formation.
Verbeek’s rationale for the number of players picked is “maximum flexibility”, but in truth it will have more to do with keeping Qatar coach Jorge Fossati guessing on his starting line-up as long as possible.
With so many European club players selected, it is highly unlikely that any more than a handful of the 20 A-League players in the provisional squad will make the 18-man final squad to be named on February 4. Two days earlier, Verbeek’s Australian-based players will have their last chance to impress in a behind-closed-doors hit-out with 2008 Asian Champions League debutant Melbourne Victory.
Pacesetting A-League club Newcastle Jets can be happy with its contribution, though, coughing up no less than …