Coach Ange Postecoglou says he’s trying to add depth to the Socceroos by summoning the likes of Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Bernie Ibini-Isei.
Coach Ange Postecoglou says he’s casting a speculative net by summoning an ageing defender from the wilderness and an untried Nigerian-born striker into the Socceroos squad.
Postecoglou named 29-year-old defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley and striker Bernie Ibini-Isei in his 23-man squad for next month’s away fixtures against the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Topor-Stanley hasn’t featured in the national side since 2008 while Ibini-Isei is uncapped at international level.
Postecoglou says the selection of the A-Leaguers is a calculated gamble to add to Australia’s shallow depth.
“We have to have an open mind because we are starting with a narrow pool,” Postecoglou told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.
“We have regenerated this team quite a bit in this last 12 months.
“When you look at the number of caps, even players who may be deemed as regulars now, they’re still in single figures some of them. So we have still got a lot of work to do.”
Postecoglou made a host of changes from his squad which played Belgium and Saudi Arabia earlier this month, with the likes of Robbie Kruse, Carl Valeri, Bailey Wright and Ben Halloran excluded.
In their places, he called up a batch including Topor-Stanley, Ibini-Isei, Turkish-based Aziz Behich and 29-year-old goalkeeper Adam Federici in a bid to create depth ahead of the Asian Cup on home soil next January.
“It’s continuing on the theme of trying to broaden our playing pool and expose some players who we believe could play a part in the progress we’re making,” he said.
Topor-Stanley was rewarded for two years of solid form at the Western Sydney Wanderers – and because the 1.91m-tall, 90kg central defender has the brawn to muscle diminutive Asian attackers.
“And looking at our defensive stocks we’re still pretty light on for experience in terms of age,” Postecoglou said.
The speedy and creative 22-year-old Ibini-Isei, who migrated to Australia as a toddler, fitted with “the way we want to play our football”.
“We need to take these two games as an opportunity to blood someone like him and give him a taste of international football,” Postecoglou said.
The Socceroos play the UAE in Abu Dhabi on October 10 and Qatar in Doha on October 14 with Postecoglou demanding stylish progress rather than winning at any cost.
“We haven’t gone into any game not trying to win. But winning ugly is no good either,” he said.
“For us it’s just about progress in the way we want to play and the players’ understanding of that.
“And we’re confident that when that happens the wins will come and we’ll know why we’re winning rather than just notching up victories that make people feel good.”