Aussie National Team Will Pull A-League Players To Play In Asian Tournament
The "potential of a multimillion-dollar payday has convinced" Football Federation Australia to enter the East Asian Championships for the first time, causing A-League clubs to lose players for two rounds of the upcoming season in order to help the Socceroos qualify, according to Michael Cockerill of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The domestic competition will have to provide at least half of the 20-man squad Socceroos Coach Holger Osieck will take to Hong Kong for a five-team qualifying tournament in December. The balance of the squad is "likely to be drawn from various Asian leagues," after European-based players were ruled out. Several coaches have "expressed their frustration that they could lose key players to a tournament that has struggled" to gain int'l recognition. However, the FFA "believes the East Asian region offers enormous long-term benefits in political, financial and footballing terms," making the invitation "too good to refuse." FFA CEO Ben Buckley said, "These championships are a great opportunity for Australian football. Our participation will enrich Australia's engagement with the fastest growing football region in Asia, including Japan, South Korea and China" (SMH, 8/30).