Farina Hopeful Injured Duo Will Play Turkey
Socceroo coach Frank Farina is hopeful Rangers defender Craig Moore and Birmingham City midfielder Stan Lazaridis will be okay to take on Turkey next month, despite them both expected to miss the remainder of the domestic season with their respective clubs.
Socceroo coach Frank Farina is hopeful Rangers defender Craig Moore (pictured right) and Birmingham City midfielder Stan Lazaridis will be okay to take on Turkey next month, despite them both expected to miss the remainder of the domestic season with their respective clubs. Moore has been troubled by a knee injury for most of the season and needs minor surgery, while Lazaridis tore his groin muscle last weekend and it is still unclear as to how serious it is. “Craig (Moore) is having an arthroscopy to see if there are any issues,” said Farina. “But all indications are its not going to be a major problem and he will be available for Turkey. “Stan Lazaridis is not as bad as first feared and he could be back towards the end of the year. So I don-t think there is any reason why we would be unavailable for the Socceroo games.” Farina confirmed he would be picking his strongest available squad for the two games on Friday May 21 (Sydney) and Monday May 24 (Melbourne) and the Oceania Nations Cup/World Cup qualifying matches a week later. While some players may still have club commitments, the majority of the Farina-s Socceroo stars should be available with most of the major leagues, including England and Italy, finishing the weekend before the two games against Turkey.
Tickets sales for the two Turkey matches are progressing steadily, although they are expected to increase markedly with an advertising campaign set to start next week. While the matches against Turkey, ranked number 8 in the latest FIFA rankings, are two high quality friendly games, Farina main priority is the OFC Nations Cup/World Cup qualifiers. Farina insists any players unavailable for the Turkey will still be in contention for the Cup that will be held in Australia, which is yet to be confirmed but most likely will be in Adelaide. The Socceroo coach also confirmed that his preference at the OFC Nations Cup is to play its main rival New Zealand first up rather than at the end of the tournament. “You-ve got to play them at some stage and I think coming off the back of two tough games against Turkey, we-ll be in pretty good stead,” said Farina.
The tournament is also acting as the qualifiers (second stage) for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, with the top two progressing to the Oceania Nations Cup final (October 2004) plus the Oceania World Cup Qualifying Play-off (third stage) in September 2005. In other news, Farina is not likely to name any bolters for the Under 23 match against Tunisia in Monastir on Wednesday 28 April 2004. The match is vital preparation for the Athens Olympics in August and Farina indicated that the baulk of the squad would be from those players that played against Greece last month, while the likes of Ahmad Elrich, Michael Beauchamp, Jade North and Wayne Srhoj will be considered after missing the match because of the NSL Grand Final. Captain Ljubo Milicevic is still missing after failing to recover from the injury he picked up at the qualifiers in Sydney last January. Straight after the Tunisia game 20 local-based players will then go into a two-week camp at the Australian Institute of Sport.