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Nov 14, 2012

Socceroos rookies vie to cement spot

Tom Rogic and his fellow Socceroos debutants have come away from their first match in the green and gold determined to cement their spot in the national fold.

An experimental Socceroos squad posted a 2-1 come-from behind win over South Korea in their friendly match in Hwaseong on Wednesday night.

Exciting youngsters Rogic, Aziz Behich, Eli Babalj and Mathew Leckie were all handed debuts off the bench and hope their impressive showings will earn them another call-up.

And it could come sooner than they think as the Socceroos will next month travel to Hong Kong to play the hosts, Guam, Chinese Taipei and North Korea in a qualification tournament for next year's East Asian Cup before resuming their World Cup qualifying campaign against Oman next March.

"Yeah of course (I want to be a permanent part of the Socceroos)," Central Coast young-gun playmaker Rogic said.

"I'm not getting carried away but like anyone else in the squad you want to stay part of the team.

"So now I'll go back to my club and do everything I can to put my case forward and hopefully get a call-up again."

Former Melbourne Heart striker Babalj, who now plays for Serbian team Red Star Belgrade, says his first taste of national duty has fired him up to work harder than ever to ensure it's not his last.

Babalj was unlucky not to score on debut after hitting the woodwork in the dying minutes before fringe Socceroo Robert Cornthwaite netted the winner.

"It just makes you want to work so much harder and make sure you make it the first of many," he said.

"Yeah it would have been nice to score, it was just rolling around the line and didn't want to go in.

"But lucky enough it ended up being a goal so I'll take the assist."

Veteran skipper Lucas Neill has welcomed the competition for spots and says it will force those vying for a place in the squad to lift their standard.

"They showed they really deserve and warrant a place in the squad," Neill said of the debutants.

"It's given the manager some nice selection problems and a really deep squad to choose from.

"It's going to mean that players have to be in form at club level to play for their country.

"Because it gives us more options it creates more competition for places and that can only be a good thing for our qualification campaign."

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