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Socceroos coach Holger Osieck has hit back at criticism over his decision not to give some of the squad’s rookies game time against North Korea on Wednesday.
Osieck handed four of the eight debutants in the 20-man squad their maiden caps in Australia’s opening clash against Hong Kong at the East Asian Cup qualifiers on Monday.
Brisbane Roar duo Matthew Smith and Ivan Franjic started while Adam Taggart and Terry Antonis came on as second-half substitutes.
Central Coast’s teen playmaker Tomas Rogic received 10 minutes against the hosts and only 25 minutes against the Koreans on Wednesday while the likes of Eli Babalj, Dino Djulbic and Aaron Mooy warmed the bench.
The three, along with Michael Marrone, were all in action in Australia’s 9-0 rout of minnows Guam as Osieck stuck to his plan of playing the less experienced players in the final two matches.
Osieck has always said his priority for this tournament was to help develop Socceroos tyros, giving them exposure at international level with the aging Australian squad going through a transitional phase.
But he was adamant he selected the right players in both games.
“What people suggest, I don’t actually care,” he said.
“I’m not listening to any of the critics because I work very closely with the team and I know what all the players can do.
“It’s my assessment and I know who is ready and who still needs to put in a lot more effort.
“I’m dealing with the facts and the situation that I’m put into and I know how to build a team and how to enlarge a group to get more competition within our squad, to get the right players for the upcoming qualifiers and to get the right players to build for the future.”
The German coach also vehemently denied any suggestions he was ever given directives from Football Federation Australia as to who to select.
“It is my sole decision what goes on here,” Osieck
“There’s nobody in the FFA who can tell me what to do because I’m the expert and nobody else.”
Osieck also made a point to highlight that it wasn’t all about the squad’s young guns getting a chance, with the likes of 30-year-old Smith, Franjic and Marrone – both 25 – also given a shot as he attempts to uncover the best the A-League has to offer.
“There were eight players who were uncapped… it’s a tribute to the A-League,” he said.
“I always said that I’m promoting the A-League and looking at the best players and if you look at players like Matt Smith, Franjic or Marrone they have never played for Australia and they did extremely well.
“So it’s not just the young players that I’m looking at.”