Australia coach hits out at Asian player policy
SYDNEY (AP) — Australia coach Holger Osieck has hit out at the reluctance of some Asian football clubs to release players for the East Asian Cup, saying he briefly considered withdrawing his team from the tournament.
Osieck included five Asian-based players in his provisional 24-man East Asian Cup squad Tuesday, but said the final 23-man squad for the tournament won’t be confirmed until 24 hours before Saturday’s first match against host South Korea, primarily because he’s yet to hear if several players will be released by their clubs to play.
He said Josh Kennedy, whose goal against Iraq last month clinched Australia a spot in the 2014 World Cup, is in doubt because his J-League club Nagoya Grampus remains firm in not allowing him to play in the tournament.
“Nagoya created a number of problems for us in not releasing Josh Kennedy,” Osieck said. “I had a chat with (Nagoya manager Dragan) Stojkovic and he agreed to let him play, but right away we got a letter from the club denying the release. It’s not a good situation and I don’t accept it.”
Osieck said he’s also unsure whether China-based players Matt McKay of Changchun Yatai and Ryan McGowan of Shandong Luneng Taishan will be formally released.
Since the four-nation tournament — which also includes Japan and China — is not FIFA protected, he said, clubs are not obliged to release players.
“However, it’s a kind of gentlemen’s agreement between the participating countries ... that players from the respective leagues should be released,” Osieck said. “You have to honor those things.”
Osieck said he thought about not competing in the event, which Australia was invited to play in for the first time.
“But after some internal discussion and in the spirit of fair play, we decided to go,” he said.
Osieck included 19 domestic A-League players in his squad, including eight uncapped players. The Asia-based players on the possible list include Kennedy, McKay, McGowan, Robbie Cornthwaite from K-League side Chunnam Dragons and Erik Paartalu of Tianjin Teda in the Chinese Super League.