His side faces a tough ask to qualify for the 2013 East Asian Cup after an unspectacular opening two qualifiers, but Osieck maintains he has made the right selection decisions
|By PADDY HIGGS
Holger Osieck will hand the younger members of his Australia squad opportunities in the Socceroos' final two EAFF East Asian Cup qualifiers, having resisting the urge to do so earlier in the campaign to avoid a "negative experience".
Australia face a battle to earn a place in the tournament in South Korea in July, 2013 after being held to a 1-1 draw with North Korea on Wednesday.
The Socceroos have struggled to convince in their two matches in Hong Kong, with Osieck criticised for not handing his younger, more attacking players such as Eli Babalj, Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy substantial roles.
But the German has stood by his policy of relying on the experienced element of his largely A-League-based squad.
"The young boys that haven't played until now will get the opportunity. 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," he told reporters.
"We still need the senior players to guide."
The Socceroos are second behind North Korea on the standings, with the leaders possessing a far better goal difference than the chasing pack.
Australia - with Guam to come on Friday - have a match in hand, and will be hoping North Korea slip up in their final qualifier against Hong Kong.
Having seen his side struggle past Hong Kong 1-0 in their qualifying opener, Osieck believes the hosts will present a challenge for North Korea and may ensure the battle to finish top of the standings may not come down to goal difference after all.
"First of all, you have to consider [North] Korea, they have to play Hong Kong, and Hong Kong are a very ambitious team. We could experience that ourselves [in the 1-0 win on Monday]," he said.
"I don't think they give the points away, so I'm not sure whether the goal difference will be the decisive factor."
Australia took a fifth-minute lead against North Korea before tiring visibly, and Osieck conceded fatigue had been a factor for an outfield 10 that had also started against Hong Kong two days earlier.
"But 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," he said.
"The players tried very hard and I have to give them a lot of credit."
- With Yui Shing Chan