Holger Osieck says fears of a ‘negative experience’ kept him from using younger players in Australia’s first two East Asian Cup qualifiers.
Osieck claimed prior to this week’s qualifying tournament in Hong Kong that development of younger players would be the focus rather than progressing to the final four, but has selected almost his most experienced line-up possible against the host nation and North Korea.
The 64-year-old German coach has defended his decision and explained the younger players would feature heavily in the final two qualifying matches against Guam and Taiwan.
“The young boys that haven’t played until now will get the opportunity,” Osieck said after Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with North Korea.
“I can tell you, if I have played the young boys today with their lack of experience, it would have been a negative experience for us.
“We still need the senior players to guide.”
Osieck made just one change to his starting line-up from the opener against Hong Kong for Wednesday’s clash with North Korea, with Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Mat Ryan handed the gloves ahead of Eugene Galekovic of Adelaide United.
The Socceroos led early thanks to a goal from Melbourne Victory’s Archie Thompson but struggled to run out the match, conceding an equaliser to North Korea in the second half.
Osieck admitted his players were fatigued after their second game in three days but argued they had enough fuel in the tank to steal victory from the North Koreans late on.
“I think at the end of the game, they bounce back and they showed great spirit and determination, and I think it was unfortunate that we could not score,” Osieck said.
“The players tried very hard and I have to give them a lot of credit.”
Australia’s next match is against Guam on Friday.