Australia V Turkey - Match Preview
Australia’s soccer community has been starved of the excitement and splendor of a Qantas Socceroo international for the best part of three years now and the anticipation is almost over for Sydney fans.
By Ben Coonan
Australia-s soccer community has been starved of the excitement and splendor of a Qantas Socceroo international for the best part of three years now and the anticipation is almost over for Sydney fans. Tomorrow night at Aussie Stadium, the Socceroos host Turkey in the first senior international played on Australian shores since November 2001. On that occasion, a last gasp penalty from Kevin Muscat handed the home side a 1-0 victory over Uruguay at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. As far as Sydney is concerned, fans last welcomed the national team to the harbour city in June of 2001, where New Zealand-s All Whites bowed out of World Cup contention following a 4-1 thrashing at Telstra Stadium. Now though, the Socceroos are back in town and judging by early ticket sales, Australia cannot wait to witness a team that is growing in maturity and stature on the world stage. In their way is Turkey, a nation that needs no introduction after their fantastic showing at 2002-s World Cup in Korea/Japan. The Turks sprung to notoriety following a series of impressive performances that was ultimately halted by eventual winners Brazil at the semi final stage. Never-the-less, Turkey left Asia-s first World Cup with third place medals. New coach Ersun Yanal has brought much of the cavalry from Korea/Japan to Australia and the Socceroos can expect one of their sternest challenges yet. In goals, Turkey is fortunate to have one of the worlds best in FC Barcelona-s Rustu Recber. Recber, one of the last remaining testimonies to the charcoal under eyes theory, was near flawless in Korea/Japan and has continued his fine form for the Catalan giants in this years Primera Liga. In midfield, an undoubted gem to Turkey-s crown is Inter Milan ace Emre Belozoglou. The creative midfielder started all but one of Turkey-s seven matches at Korea/Japan and even nabbed the match opener in the Turks 1-1 draw with Costa Rica. Up front, the firepower at Yanal-s disposal is terrifying. Hakan Sukur (pictured left) and Hasas Sas are two of Europe-s most revered attackers and will be sure to stretch an under strength Qantas Socceroo back line to the full. For good measure, Konyaspor marksmen Zafer Biryol is sure to get some game time amid claims he is Turkey- next big thing. Biryol finished top goal scorer in the Turkish league this season, despite his team not featuring near the top of the table. However Yanal, has also been forced to go into the two matches without several of his stars in German based Basturk, Davala and Altintop, but he like Farina sees this as a good opportunity for his fringe players to stake a claim. Yanal made his ambitions for the two match series clear at the Turks first training session at North Sydney Oval last night: “There are high expectations on us wherever we go. We go out with the pressure on us to win every game and that's what we hope to do,” said the Turkish mastermind, who has a 100% record as national coach, albeit after only one match. “We don't want to undersell the Australian team. They've still got some good players like Bresciano and Skoko. But I like my team to play football that is full of attack and a lot of hard pressing. “ Win at all costs, score at all costs.” Now, to the Socceroos, the flagship of soccer in a proud sporting nation. Much has been made of the unavailability of some of Australia-s key players, namely skipper Craig Moore and English Premier League duo Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka. Although, it speaks volumes for the depth at Frank Farina-s disposal that he is still able to produce a world-class squad with plenty of exciting talent. By now, Australia knows all about Marco Bresciano (pictured above). Make no mistake, in Bresciano, Australia has a true superstar in the making. After scoring the winner against South Africa in March and netting against Jamaica in September, the Parma midfielder is in hot form for his country. Bresciano is certain to be at the crux of Australia-s midfield, which is virtually at full strength. The ever-present Josip Skoko will continue his partnership with Bresciano in the centre, while Farina has opted to give Vince Grella his first start in a Qantas Socceroo shirt in the anchor role. Blackburn Rovers winger Brett Emerton has got the nod on the right hand side, although some are suggesting he might play in a more forward role, with Farina naming only one recognized striker. Australia-s left midfield choices are plentiful as always and Farina has no shortage of options on Friday night, with Scott Chipperfield, Stan Lazaridis and Danny Tiatto all capable of playing in that role. Stan Lazaridis though will take his usual place at left fullback and Chipperfield get the nod as he has never let Australia down in recent times. In defense, the Australian cupboard is almost bare, with regulars Moore, Tony Popovic, Lucas Neill and Kevin Muscat all absent for a variety of reasons. This throws opportunity the way of Qantas Under 23-s Jade North and Scottish based pair Patrick Kisnorbo and Adrian Madaschi, who have been very impressive in their debut seasons in Scotland-s top flight with Hearts and Partick Thistle respectively. However Farina has opted for fringe players Steve Laybutt and Qantas Socceroo veteran Tony Vidmar (pictured right), who last paired up together against Jamaica, when the defensive stocks were again short. Both have plenty to prove to Farina and in Vidmar-s case, he has just come off one of his best seasons ever overseas with Cardiff City, where he won most of the player awards on offer. Up front is another concern for Farina with four front line strikers out of action. Again though, this spells opportunity for David Zdrilic, Mile Sterjovski, Max Vieri or Ante Milicic, whom, apart from Zdrilic, are players that are relatively untried at the international arena. Australian fans will be itching at the chance to see Napoli striker Vieri in green and gold, given his vintage pedigree. Vieri is the brother of Italian superstar Christian, but has declared his future to his country of birth, much to the delight of Farina and Australia-s soccer punditry. Once again, Australia-s goalkeeping stocks are second to none and Farina will be hard pressed putting a foot wrong in selecting either Mark Schwarzer of Middlesborough or Perugia custodian Zeljko Kalac. Schwarzer not only gets the nod for the starting spot, but has also been named captain in Moore-s absence. Though they have not played at home as much as one would like, the Socceroos home record is nothing to sneeze at. The last time Australia lost on home soil was in the 1998 edition of the OFC Nations Cup in Brisbane, that being a 1-0 loss to New Zealand in the final. Since being under Farina-s watchful eye, the Socceroos have stretched their unbeaten run at home to ten matches and have conceded just three goals in that time. Friday night promises to be a huge threat to that impressive record and the Socceroos will have to perform under trying circumstances against one of the world-s best. International soccer returns to our shore on Friday night and Sydney-s soccer fans are presented with an opportunity to see some of Australia-s finest prospects do battle with the one of the world-s best. It-s an opportunity to good to pass up and those at Aussie Stadium tomorrow night will not be leaving disappointed.