AFC Player of the Year nominee Sasa Ognenovski has received his first call-up to the Australia squad for this month's friendly with Egypt in Cairo.
Central defender Ognenovski gets his long-awaited chance under new Socceroos coach Holger Osieck after a stellar season with his K-League club Seongnam Ilhwa.
Ognenovski captained the Korea Republic club to this year's AFC Champions League final and also gained a nomination for the AFC Player of the Year Award along with Socceroo Tim Cahill. Ognenovski will join the Socceroos squad after facing Zob Ahan of Iran in the AFC Champions League Final in Tokyo on Saturday.
The 31-year-old central defender said he had all but given up hope of carrying out his dream of playing for his country, but earning his first Asian footballer of the year nomination gave renewed hope. "It feels brilliant, I'm just really happy and humbled to be given the opportunity to represent my country," he said.
"I had given up hope but with the nomination of AFC player of the year and making another Champions League final I thought that probably by form I should get an opportunity."
Osieck, although he has never seen Ognenovski play first hand, likes his aggressive approach. "His presence is a very intimidating factor for the attacking team and it's always good to have somebody people are a bit scared of," Osieck said. "And of course he's strong in the air and athletic and he is a very strong defender."
Denmark-based goalkeeper Nathan Coe received his second call-up to the Socceroos squad after being selected for the international friendly against Nigeria in London in 2007. Although having represented Australia at Under-17 and Under-20 level, Coe is yet to make his senior international debut for Australia.
Socceroos captain Lucas Neill returns to the national squad after missing the last match against Paraguay due to injury along with Dutch-based midfielder Brett Holman, one of Australia's best performers at this year's FIFA World Cup™. Holman has recovered from a calf injury that he sustained in the 2-1 win over Poland in Krakow last September.
Osieck will be using the Cairo match on 17 November as part of Australia's preparations for the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar in January.
Goalkeepers: Nathan Coe (Sonderjysk Elitesport/Denmark), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham/England)
Defenders: David Carney (Blackpool/England), Lucas Neill (Galatasaray/Turkey), Jade North (Wellington Phoenix/New Zealand), Sasa Ognenovski (Seongnam Ilhwa/Korea Republic), Michael Thwaite (Gold Coast United), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow/Russia)
Midfielders: Tim Cahill (Everton/England), Jason Culina (Gold Coast United), Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers/England), Richard Garcia (Hull City/England), Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands), Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirligi/Turkey), Matt McKay (Brisbane Roar), Carl Valeri (Sassuolo/Italy), Dario Vidosic (Nuremberg/Germany)
Forwards: Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus/Japan), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray/Turkey), Scott McDonald (Middlesbrough/England)