May 20, 2014 – 11:08PM
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou admits the prospect of South Africa sending a second-string side for Monday’s friendly against Australia at ANZ Stadium is a serious concern before the World Cup.
The Bafana Bafana are scheduled to face Australia on May 26, and then head to Auckland four days later to take on New Zealand, but will do so without several big names.
Veterans Kagisho Dikgacoi, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Bernard Parker, Tsepo Masilela and Itumeleng Khune, who boast over 300 caps between them, as well as FC Rostov young gun Siyanda Xulu, are among those understood to have withdrawn from selection, citing fatigue from their club campaigns.
“We obviously want a decent test and a decent hit-out and we’re still hopeful they’ll send out a strong enough team,” Postecoglou said. “We definitely want to make sure the opposition make it tough for us because we’re going to a World Cup. I’m just hoping it all gets sorted out in time.”
Postecoglou seemed bemused at why any player would be averse to pulling on their national team colours.
“Any time you play international football, it would be pretty surprising if the players didn’t want to play,” he said. “But to be honest, that game was always going to be more about us than the opposition. From our perspective, our outcomes don’t change because we can only control our side of things.”
The South Africans are so hampered by withdrawals that an official told local media how threadbare the selection had become.
“At this stage, we have more officials and invited media booked to go to Australia than players,” he said “It’s a disaster if something can’t be sorted out.”
South Africa coach Gordon Igesund was reluctant to disclose how many players would be pulling out.
“I can’t give any details right now,” he told iol.co.za. “We are trying to solve the problem and we’ll be in a position to give details of the situation at a media conference at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday morning.”
Regardless of who South Africa bring, the Socceroos might try some new combinations in their farewell match on Australian soil.
“We’re definitely going to be looking at some things we haven’t tried before,” Postecoglou said. “That’s not dependant on who the opposition is, that’s just about us. We’ve got two strong hit-outs, this is one of them, and we want to make the most of them.”
Postecoglou has kept a keen eye on all players in the pre-tournament camp on the central coast over the past week, and has been pleased with what he has seen.
“Obviously it’s a new group and a lot of the early arrivals were the younger ones,” he said. “It’s been nice to kick it off here in Gosford because it’s fairly quiet and relaxed and they can go about their work. But training has been intense, as I expected.
“A lot of guys are still nervous about getting selected, so training has had a good tempo and, the last few days, we’ve had more numbers filtering in. I’ve been happy with how it’s been going.”
Asked if he was closer to finalising his final 23, Postecoglou said he was still looking to give every player a chance to impress.
“To a certain extent, I’m definitely getting an idea, but again I want to give the boys every opportunity and a lot of it will just be how they cope with training,” he said. “They’re all coming in at different stages of fitness and in different stages of the season – some have finished their season, others are halfway through – so we’ll see how they cope right through until the South Africa game.”
Source : The Canberra Times