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Everton slip to third successive defeat

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Osieck to determine selections

Football Federation Australia boss Ben Buckley has made it clear his organisation won't pressure Socceroos coach Holger Osieck into making returning superstars Brett Emerton and Harry Kewell available for the blockbuster A-League opener between their clubs.

The October 8 duel between Kewell's Melbourne Victory and Emerton's Sydney FC at Etihad Stadium falls between two national team fixtures. Australia play Malaysia in a friendly in Canberra on October 7 and Oman in a World Cup qualifier in Sydney four days later.

Kewell's lack of recent match play could count against him being selected in Osieck's squad, but Emerton would appear a certain choice.

If one, or both, miss the opening A-League fixture they won't be scheduled to meet again until January 26. Their teams clash in Melbourne on Australia Day and Sydney's sole home game against the Victory is scheduled for March 10.

Earlier this week Emerton declared he would love to play against Kewell in the opening round, but emphasised other people would make the decision. Buckley stressed on Friday that the FFA would not attempt to influence Osieck's selections.

"Let me make it very clear, I don't select the team and no parameters will be set around Holger to select the team," Buckley told reporters.

"We have to be very mindful and respectful of the fact that the national coach has to have the right to determine who plays in national team matches and we won't be doing anything to stand in Holger's way.

"I'm sure he will select the team based on the individual merits and the performance of individual players."

Buckley said he didn't share the view it would be a missed opportunity for the A-League if Emerton and Kewell didn't line up against each other next month.

"I think there's intense excitement about the league, clearly that matchup will come in due course when the time is right," Buckley said.

"But let's put it in perspective, it's certainly a nice problem to have and a nice problem to debate and we have an exciting phase of World Cup qualification matches ahead and that's got to be an absolute priority."

A large crowd was tipped to watch Kewell's first appearance for Melbourne in Adelaide on Friday night, while Emerton was scheduled to start in his first game for Sydney against Perth at Kogarah on Saturday.

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