Farina Faces Selection Dilemma

Socceroo coach Frank Farina is facing a selection dilemma for the forthcoming match between the Socceroos and Venezuela, due to be played in Caracas at 7pm on Wednesday 18 February (10am AEST Thursday 19 February).

Socceroo coach Frank Farina is facing a selection dilemma for the forthcoming match between the Socceroos and Venezuela, due to be played in Caracas at 7pm on Wednesday 18 February (10am AEST Thursday 19 February).

With Blackburn Rovers midfielder Brett Emerton (pictured) ruled out of the international friendly on medical grounds following an injury he sustained to his left ankle during Blackburn's last match to Newcastle United, fellow Socceroos Josip Skoko, John Aloisi and Harry Kewell have also been sidelined through injury following the weekend's round of matches. “There are always little surprises that come along,” Farina said from Caracas. “In four years things don-t surprise me anymore, because there is always last minute hitches.   “That-s because of the problems where players are all involved in matches over the weekend.”

Australia Under-23 and Marconi Stallions midfielder Nick Carle has been rewarded with a call-up to the senior team after numerous impressive displays for the Under-23 national team and Marconi, whilst Farina has opted for experience in the goalscoring department with return Socceroo appearances for David Zdrilic (Aberdeen FC, Scotland) and Paul Agostino (1860 Munich, Germany). “All three have played international football at some stage. David Zdrilic has most probably been in the wilderness for a little while, but I think the last game he played for us, he scored against New Zealand in a World Cup qualifier, so I think he will fired up for a comeback.  “Paul Agostino is similar to ‘Zdrilla-, okay he hasn-t seen a lot of time with 1860 Munich, but he is an experienced player and I-m sure he will rise to the big occasion.   “And Nicky Carle did very well for us in the Under 23-s and he is a player who is in our future plans in terms of the national squad, so it-s a good grounding for him.”

Empoli (Italy) midfielder Vince Grella has arrived in Caracas however is unlikely to play a part in the match, despite receiving daily intensive treatment from the Socceroos medical staff.  “He is definitely not ruled out at the moment. We are monitoring his ankle as each day goes by and hopefully he will continue to get better.   “He certainly does have a problem that has been ongoing one, but he has been playing apart from the weekend. We are still hopeful we can get him up for the game.”

The match is expected to attract a sell-out crowd of 30,000 to the Olympic stadium in Caracas, with the high-flying Venezuelans currently placed fifth on the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying table. Farina is expecting Venezuela to be at full strength for the clash.   “I think it will be there best side. They have called up four or five of their overseas based players, I think that is all they have got playing overseas.   “They have called them back because they are obviously preparing for next month-s qualifiers, so all my mail is they will be putting out their strongest squad. It will be a good test for us.”  Given the timings of the match, Farina dismissed claims he had been boxed in to play the game.   “If we didn-t take this game, we would have been criticised by everybody, because it came just after we were notified that Oceania had to go back through South America.   “I think I mentioned that we don-t get too many opportunities to come here and I doubt we will get another opportunity to come to South America because of the heavy schedule of qualifiers that they have.   “Okay it is at a difficult time, but I think what we will learn out of this game will invaluable in terms of us going forward.”

Farina gave every indication that the two local-based players in the squad Ahmad Elrich and Simon Colosimo could start in the match. Elrich will be fighting with Mile Sterjovski for the right midfield spot in Emerton-s absence, while Colosimo would be the natural to start in the defensive midfield role if Grella fails to overcome his injury in time.   “There is a big chance, but as I say it is too hard to comment on at the moment because until we have all the players in the camp and can assess their fitness and are obviously all okay, it is hard to say they will get a run but they are a big chance, put it that way.”  Farina was asked whether he would take any specific approach into the match, indicating he would be treating it as if it was a World Cup qualifier.   “I think you have got to come here and try to duplicate situations and we-ll be going into Wednesday-s game with an idea that we-re coming to play an away game first up and we-ll be trying to get a result.   “That doesn-t mean we-re not going to go out and not try and play football, but we-ve got to try and use this situation to our advantage. If we have to come here in terms of the fifth-place play-off we are going to try something, we are going to go into this game with the approach of getting a good result.   “I am not saying we are going to play negatively but we-ll be using it as a test if we have to come back in November (2005).”   Asked if that meant a change in formation, Farina replied “It may yes, definitely.”

Profiles of all the players are available on the Australian Soccer Association website, click on National Teams, then Socceroos, then from the 'Select Other Information' drop-box choose player profiles. www.australiansoccer.com.au


The match will be broadcast LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on SBS on Thursday 19th February at 9.30am AEST.*  A full match replay will be screened that evening at 10.00pm (All Centres)

In Sydney, Radio 2 will also broadcast the match over the airwaves LIVE and EXCLUSIVE.  For those people unable to view or listen to the game, there will also be a FULL LIVE MATCH UPDATE on the ASA website from 9.45am, complete with line-ups and live commentary.