Socceroos coach Holger Osieck has demanded his senior players step up their efforts for the World Cup qualifier against Iraq in Doha this month.
Osieck, who described the 2-1 loss away to Jordan in September as a ‘disaster’, has put the onus squarely on his established stars to lead from the front both on and off the field.
“I have to be very critical and I expect in particular from the senior players the guidance for the entire group, and I will get that pretty clearly across when we get into camp in Doha,” Osieck said after announcing his 22-man squad in Sydney on Wednesday.
He added when asked if his older players can do more off the field as well as on it: “Of course. It’s not enough to enter the pitch and do some stuff and then after the final whistle you are relieved of your duties.
“It’s ongoing, starting from the moment we arrive in our hotel to the departure after the game.”
Pressed on whether the off-field leadership was lacking in recent camps, Osieck replied: “Well, I think I made some observations that lead me to that very clear statement.”
Meanwhile, Osieck says his decision to cancel a warm-up game against the United Arab Emirates was in direct response to the Jordan loss.
The Socceroos scored a confidence-boosting 3-0 win over Lebanon prior to the Jordan World Cup qualifier, however the coach believes the Lebanon match took too much out of his players.
“First of all the set up is a lot better and it gives me a better opportunity … there’s no distraction or jubilation of a victory prior,” Osieck said when asked how he plans to turn things around against Iraq.
“It’s just the simple focus on that particular game and I’m pretty confident I’ll get them into the position to really perform and to perform the way I want them too.”
The coach revealed he will employ a more direct style against Iraq after giving away far too much possession against Jordan.
“We have to play more as a unit and I have to underline we are not a kick-and-rush team,” he said.
“We have the potential to move the ball, to open spaces, to create opportunities and that is what we have to do in the upcoming game.”
The Socceroos are precariously placed in third spot in Group B on equal points (two) with Iraq and Oman and trailing Japan (10) and Jordan (four).
Australia play Iraq at the Al Arabi Stadium, Doha, on October 16.