Australia coach Holger Osieck has recalled Mark Bresciano and announced three uncapped players for the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifier against Saudi Arabia, in a squad that features a blend of youth and experience.
Brisbane Roar midfielder Erik Paartalu, Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Mat Ryan and Melbourne Heart defender Michael Marrone are the three new faces in the 19-man squad for the match on 29 February in Melbourne.
Included are just three European-based players – James Troisi, Adam Sarota and long-serving goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer – while seven of the squad ply their trade in Asia.
The remaining players are based in Australia, although defender Mark Milligan is currently on a loan stint at Melbourne Victory from Japan’s JEF United.
Aside from Bresciano and Schwarzer, other experienced players named include Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton, Sasa Ognenovski, David Carney and captain Lucas Neill.
Midfielder Bresciano – a veteran of two FIFA World Cup appearances – returns to the side for the first time since South Africa 2010.
“(Mark) plays regularly and scores regularly for his club so I wanted to see what he can do for us,” said Osieck.
“He had some injuries and problems so I didn’t include him for the (2011) Asian Cup squad.”
“We have a long campaign ahead of us and we still need some additional experience and additional quality. Mark has played in Serie A and I know that he can still help our team. I think mentally he is ready to be back."
Australia have already qualified for Round Four of Asian qualifying for Brazil 2014, however four-time FIFA World Cup finalists Saudi Arabia have a fight on their hands to progress.
Frank Rijkaard’s side hold a one-point lead over Oman and a two-point margin over Thailand with the pair to meet in Muscat on the final matchday.
Australia squad Goalkeepers: Mark Schwarzer (Fulham/England), Mathew Ryan (Central Coast Mariners)
Defenders: Lucas Neill (Al Jazira/United Arab Emirates), David Carney (Bunyodkor/Uzbekistan), Michael Marrone (Melbourne Heart), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory – loan from JEF United/Japan), Jade North (Consadole Sapporo/Japan), Sasa Ognenovski (Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma/Korea Republic), Matthew Spiranovic (Urawa Red Diamonds/Japan), Michael Thwaite (Gold Coast United)
Midfielders: Mark Bresciano (Al Nasr/United Arab Emirates), Nicky Carle (Sydney FC), Brett Emerton (Sydney FC), Erik Paartalu (Brisbane Roar), James Troisi (Kayserispor/Turkey)
Forwards: Alex Brosque (Shimizu S-Pulse/Japan), Harry Kewell (Melbourne Victory), Adam Sarota (Utrecht/Netherlands), Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory)