Socceroos Craig Moore and Archie Thompson lead an inexperienced home-based Australian squad for next week's opening AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Indonesia in Jakarta.
On Monday coach Pim Verbeek named an entirely A-League 21-man squad for the 28 January match. Team captain and defender Moore with 40 appearances and striker Thompson with 30 caps are easily the most experienced of a largely internationally-untried squad, missing all of Australia's European-based stars.
Only four other members of the squad have represented their country before, striker Daniel Allsopp, midfielders Matt McKay and Tom Pondeljak, and defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley, with the quarter sharing just ten caps. Verbeek decided not to call upon any of his European-based players, who will be back for the crucial Asian World Cup qualification match against Japan in Yokohama on 11 February.
"These are the best Australian players playing in the A-League," Verbeek told reporters on Monday. "It's always a challenge to play an international in another country without adequate preparation, but the boys are excited to be performing in a great atmosphere for the Indonesia match."
Verbeek said he left out in-form Adelaide United central defender Sasa Ognenovski because of his age, 29, and his intention to play his future international football with Macedonia. "He's not young any more and other younger players have more possibilities for the next World Cup than him, and it's good for him to focus on playing for Macedonia," Verbeek said.
He also defended his decision to select three internationally-untried goalkeepers - Eugene Galekovic, Michael Theoklitos and Danny Vukovic - for the expected hostile atmosphere of Jakarta's Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
"I'm not worried about that, and the only way to get experience is to play them. They have to make their debuts sometime," he said. "It will be a good test for them to have confidence in themselves."
Verbeek said he had watched plenty of DVDs of Indonesia's recent matches and described them as a "decent team with players who have played together for a long time. We know their strong and weak points," Verbeek said.
The Socceroos, who leave for Jakarta on Monday, have been drawn with Indonesia, Kuwait and Oman in Group B of the AFC Asian Cup qualification.
The top two teams from each group of the qualification stage progress to the Asian Cup, to be held in Qatar.
The Australian 21-man squad named on Monday for the AFC Asian Cup qualifier match against Indonesia in Jakarta on 28 January:
Danny Allsopp (Melbourne Victory), Billy Celeski (Melbourne Victory), Shannon Cole (Sydney FC), Robert Cornthwaite (Adelaide United), Tarek Elrich (Newcastle Jets), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United), Dean Heffernan (Central Coast Mariners), Scott Jamieson (Adelaide United), Dylan Macallister (Central Coast Mariners), Matt McKay (Queensland Roar), Craig Moore (Queensland Roar), Tom Pondeljak (Melbourne Victory), Paul Reid (Adelaide United), Matt Simon (Central Coast Mariners), Michael Theoklitos (Melbourne Victory), Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Matt Thompson (Newcastle Jets), Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Perth Glory), Rodrigo Vargas (Melbourne Victory), Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Michael Zullo (Queensland Roar).