Consistency key for young United: Mulvey
Their outspoken owner Clive Palmer might have cheekily backed an under 23s Gold Coast United outfit to down the ill-fated Olyroos.
But the Gold Coast's interim coach Mike Mulvey agrees with Socceroos coach Holger Osieck that A-League youngsters are too inconsistent - despite his junior side taking the competition by storm.
In order to highlight the Olyroos' "misguided selection process" after they missed London Games qualification, Palmer has challenged the Australian under 23s to take on a Gold Coast youth combination in a $50,000 winner-take-all clash at Skilled Park.
Palmer is unhappy that the Gold Coast, the National Youth League champions for the past two seasons, only had one Olyroos representative - Dylan McGowan.
And he only earned an Olyroos nod after being flown in as injury cover.
Cynics could be tempted to share Palmer's view after an injury-ravaged Gold Coast resembling an under 23s outfit almost knocked off ladder leader Central Coast on Wednesday night.
Gold Coast's Ben Halloran is suddenly the name on everyone's lips after the youngster scored a contender for goal of the year in their spirited 3-3 draw with the Mariners.
Yet Mulvey backed Osieck's call that youngsters had to be more consistent.
Osieck made a point of criticising A-League youngsters' "lack of desire" when naming his squad for next week's Asian World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia.
"I have heard that Holger Osieck believes the younger players in the league were lacking consistency and I agree - what I am looking for from Benny is 90 minutes," Mulvey said.
"He's a danger to any team and, if they don't pay any attention to him, he will do what he did on Wednesday night - but I want to see him do it for the whole game."
Not that Mulvey didn't back Halloran to repeat his heroics against Melbourne Victory at Skilled Park on Saturday night.
"He's got the ability to run at players with the ball at full speed and that is a rarity," he said.
"I don't care who you are - that is incredibly difficult to defend against.
"He still has a lot to learn but he is playing with a smile on his face and we are giving him the ball where he can hurt the opposition."
So impressive have the young brigade been that Mulvey said none of the 10 regulars set to return was guaranteed spots.
Ante Rozic (hamstring) and Dutch import Peter Jungschlager (hip) are expected to be fit for the next round - but whether they are picked remains to be seen.
"There's no automatic choices. Performance will be rewarded," Mulvey said.