Tight schedule does not faze Socceroos

Football Federation Australia boss Ben Buckley is unconcerned that the Socceroos will play two friendlies in the space of three days.Buckley announced on Thursday that Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium would host a friendly between Australia and Serbia on June 7, just two days after the Socceroos meet New Zealand in Adelaide.

But neither Buckley nor coach Holger Osieck believe that the tight scheduling will diminish either game.

“We’ve spoken to Holger about that and he’s got no doubt that the team will be able to perform,” Buckley said.

Buckley said the scheduling will also give Osieck a chance to look at the depth of his squad, but did not believe that would mean he would field a second-string team in either match.

“I think a great opportunity exists for more than just the regular players to participate and get an opportunity. I think we saw the emergence of new talent in Doha, we’ve seen the emergence of new talent when we played in Germany. I think the fans are looking forward to seeing the next generation of Socceroos,” he said.

“You’ll see full-strength Socceroos team on that day (in Melbourne). Clearly there will be a fairly deep bench, which will give new players a chance to show their talent and shine.”

Socceroos hero Tim Cahill will not be part of that squad, with Buckley confirming that FFA expects he will ask to be excused because of a heavy recent schedule.

“My understanding at the moment is that Tim probably won’t be participating in these matches because he’s had a very intense season and an intense number of off-seasons. If he changes his mind, no doubt that will be a great bonus. But we don’t anticipate Tim playing,” he said.

Buckley said he was confident that Serbia would present close to a full-strength side for the friendly in Melbourne.

He also said he felt that despite not being a ground custom built for rectangular sports, that Etihad Stadium was the best venue for the match.

“We believe that Etihad Stadium will be the right size for the sort of crowd that we expect. We’ve got AAMI Park at 30,000, we certainly expect more to attend the match then AAMI has the capacity to accommodate,” he said.