Osieck counting on Kewell
Thursday 18, Nov 2010

Coach Holger Osieck is looking forward to welcoming back Harry Kewell for January's Asian Cup following the Socceroos' 3-0 humbling by Egypt in Cairo. The German was a far from happy man following Wednesday night's friendly international loss to the African champions, saying he felt the Australians were down on accuracy and aggression. However he felt there was no need to panic despite the sloppy performance and that additions such as the mercurial Kewell would bolster the squad for the Asian Cup Qatar. "There were some absentees, someone like Harry," he said. "Harry definitely brings some quality and (there are) some other guys that could do some good things for the team. "It is not a situation that should frustrate us completely." Kewell was allowed to skip the short trip from Turkey to Egypt to ensure that his recovery from his latest injury runs as smoothly as possible. Australia should also have the services of tall striker Josh Kennedy to call upon in the coming months. The J-League marksman missed the flight with a back niggle while defenders Matthew Spiranovic (hamstring) and Jon McKain (twisted ankle) should recover from their respective injuries. The burning questions heading into the fixture against Egypt surrounded Tim Cahill's strike partner and Lucas Neill's team-mate at the centre of defence. Neither has been resolved before Osieck names his Asian Cup squad next month. Kewell and Kennedy remain strong options for the striking gig, there is the potential to also shuffle Brett Holman forward. Osieck may be keen to keep the energetic Holman in a position where he can be more influential but the coach appears in no hurry to sound out creative midfielder Mark Bresciano about a return. Forward Scott McDonald stretched his goal drought at international level out to 20 internationals on Wednesday night. To be fair to him, he was starved of opportunities as Australia failed to regularly pierce Egypt's compressed defence. On the central defensive front, Spiranovic and McKain remain in contention for the spot while despite the odd edgy moment on debut against the Pharaohs, 31-year-old Sasa Ognenovski deserves to make the 23-man Asian Cup squad. Mile Jedinak appears to have trumped Carl Valeri for the midfield spot next to Jason Culina, Valeri's lack of game time for Serie B side Sassuolo counting against him. Socceroos captain Lucas Neill said the national side was still "a work in progress". "It is not a disaster, do not read too much into it," he said post-match. "There is a lot to play for and to be positive going into the Asian Cup." It was a case of be careful what you wish for the Socceroos against Egypt. They wanted a hit-out against a skilful and quick side to expose any kinks and the world No.11 side held up their end of the bargain. After Everton star Cahill surprisingly missed the target in the 25th minute, Ahmed Abdul-Zaher opened the scoring four minutes later by latching onto the rebound from a blocked shot in the penalty box. Mohamed Nagy added the second in the 59th minute by finishing off a quality move down the right flank by Ahmed Elmehamady, following some less than decisive play from the Australians. Mohamed Zidan topped off an enjoyable evening for the home fans by slotting home a penalty in the 89th minute. Australia's next match is against the United Arab Emirates on January 5 in the lead-up to the Asian Cup, where they meet India, South Korea and Bahrain in the group stages.

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