Emerton to lead young Australia squad
Australia midfielder Brett Emerton will skipper an inexperienced 20-man squad to take part in the five-team qualifying tournament for next year's East Asian Championships, coach Holger Osieck said on Thursday.
Australia will compete against Taiwan, Guam, North Korea and hosts Hong Kong in the nine-day tournament, which starts on Monday, with the winners qualifying for the four-team finals held in South Korea in July and also featuring Japan and China.
Eight players in Osieck's squad have yet to win a cap with the timing of the tournament falling in the middle of the European and A-League seasons where the majority of the Socceroos squad play their club football.
Emerton, formally of English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers and now with A-League side Sydney FC, was an obvious choice to lead the squad for the Hong Kong tournament, Osieck said.
"It can't be a secret when you have the most capped person in that squad and the second most capped person in Socceroos history that this person will lead the crew," the German said of the 92-cap Emerton.
Osieck said the younger, inexperienced players had the opportunity to force their way into the squad for the World Cup qualifiers next year, with Australia in a scrap to reach Brazil with four matches remaining in the region's lengthy campaign.
"It's no secret that we need to get fresh blood into the Socceroos and that is my priority here - to look at the possibilities of some guys stepping up," the former Canada boss said.
"But I've made it clear to the boys that of course we are looking at the development of the squad but we are also looking for success."
Even with the inexperienced lineup, the Socceroos are heavy favourites to win through to the East Asian finals in their debut showing at the biennial tournament first held in 2003.