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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 1, 2011

Socceroos to field strong team

The Socceroos will field their strongest possible line-up in a bid to kick off their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign with a tone-setting victory over lowly Thailand at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

Australia coach Holger Osieck said he was yet to settle on his final team but assured it would be the best he could muster against the world No.120-ranked nation.

New Melbourne Victory signing Harry Kewell was left out over fitness concerns, but is considered a possibility to return for their qualifier against Oman in Sydney on October 11.

The Socceroos must quickly back up to face Saudi Arabia in the Middle East next Tuesday in a second World Cup qualifier but Osieck won't experiment or hold anyone back against Thailand. The German said his No.22-ranked side would show full respect to Thailand, coached by compatriot Winfried Schaefer who took the reins from former England captain Bryan Robson in July.

"My intent, and the boys are on the same page, is the direct focus is on (Friday's) game and we have no different thoughts about it," he said. "We need to get into the competition and we need to make a good start right away and we need to get our points."

Osieck revealed "cornerstone" Brett Holman, who missed the 2-1 friendly victory over Wales last month, would play but he was otherwise keeping his cards close to his chest with selections.

He admitted he was down to "a final 13" and was yet to decide who would partner skipper Lucas Neill in central defence - Sasa Ognenovski or Matthew Spiranovic.

While Thailand are viewed as the easybeats in the Asian qualifying group, which also feature Oman, Schaefer said anything was possible for his underdogs.

"We must go out with courage," he said. "If we go out with courage, we've got a chance for a result."

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