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Nov 26, 2012

Smith urges Socceroos to take their chance

Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith has urged his new Socceroos squadmates to make the most of their opportunities in national colours with spots for next year's World Cup qualifiers well and truly up for grabs.

England-born Smith was one of several new faces named in coach Holger Osieck's 25-man squad for the East Asian Cup qualifiers who assembled in Sydney on Monday.

The squad is made up primarily of A-League players due to the tournament being played outside official FIFA match dates and, with the Socceroos side far from settled ahead of next year's World Cup qualifiers, Smith said the chance was there for players to make an impression.

"For the guys from Asia and the guys from the A-League it's an opportunity to impress in front of the head coach," he said.

"It's good to get the guys together and prepare for the tournament in Hong Kong. You can't think too far ahead, you just have to concentrate on training this week and hopefully first and foremost for myself to make the squad to go to Hong Kong and go from there."

Smith, who had to have his Australia selection cleared by the English Football Association, has followed a more roundabout route than most to national honours.

After ploughing away in the Queensland State League with Brisbane Strikers, and working in the team's office, the 30-year-old caught the eye of Perth coach Ian Ferguson before playing a role in Brisbane's dual A-League title successes.

Given Australia's shaky defence in World Cup qualification, the East Asian Football Federation qualifying tournament, which begins in Hong Kong on Saturday, has given Osieck a chance to review his options.

"It's an opportunity for all central defenders," Smith said.

"I've very pleased to be involved. Australia is my home, it has been for some time now.

"It's been a crazy career. Playing in the state league and working in the office there until Ian Ferguson gave me an opportunity in Perth and Ange (Postecoglou) did the same in Brisbane and I'm grateful for another opportunity too.

"I would like nothing better than to represent Australia."

Fellow defender Dino Djulbic, who plays with Guizhou Renhe FC in China, was another newcomer to the Socceroos camp. The former Gold Coast United journeyman echoed Smith's comments and said he was glad to get some recognition for his good form.

"To represent Australia would be very nice, I'm excited to be here and keen to show the coach what I can do," said the Bosnian-born Djulbic, whose selection also required the relevant paperwork to be completed from his place of birth.

Osieck will announce his 20-man squad to travel to Hong Kong on Thursday.

Australia will compete against Chinese-Taipei, Guam, Hong Kong and North Korea in the qualifying tournament from December 1-9.

The East Asian Cup 2013 will be held in Seoul, South Korea from July 20-28.

It was confirmed late on Monday that Adelaide midfielder Dario Vidosic had been withdrawn from the squad due to a knee injury. There were no plans to replace him.

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