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Kewell To Miss Australia's Opening World Cup Qualifier

PTI 23 Aug 2011, 11:11:58 IST

Sydney, Aug 23 : Harry Kewell has been left out of the Socceroos' first squad for World Cup qualifying just three days after signing with Australian A-League club Melbourne Victory.

Coach Holger Osieck announced his 23-man squad Tuesday for World Cup Asian qualifying matches against Thailand on Sept. 2 and Saudi Arabia on Sept. 6, including all 18 players involved in the 2-1 win over Wales in a friendly earlier this month plus recalling striker Josh Kennedy, Brett Holman, defenders Sasa Ognenovski and Mark Milligan and drafting in goalkeeper Nathan Coe.

Everton midfielder Tim Cahill, veteran Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwartzer and Lucas Neill, who signed with Gulf powerhouse Al-Jazira on Monday, were all included as expected for the home and away matches.

Former Liverpool and Leeds United star Kewell missed the Wales match due to a lack of match fitness and had been without a contract for two months after leaving Turkish club Galatasaray after last season.

The 32-year-old Kewell has never before played in Australia's national league but has played 54 games for Australia since 1996, scoring 16 goals.

Australia, ousted in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, opens continental qualifying for 2014 in the third round against Thailand in Brisbane.

“From my point of view, it's the strongest group we have at the moment,” Osieck said. “We need to be strong, we are starting our new World Cup campaign.”

Middlesbrough striker Scott McDonald and Dutch-based winger Brett Emerton were included despite hamstring strains, but Osieck said he wanted Kewell to focus on getting back into match condition.

“He definitely is healthy but, to be psychically healthy and match fit, it's always a gap,” Osieck said. “I cannot give you an update on his match fitness. I simply know Victory will expect him early September to join team training.”

The Australians have won both previous A-international matches against Thailand. Oman and Saudi Arabia join Australia and Thailand in Group D. The top two teams in each of the five groups will progress to the fourth round of Asian qualifying.

Australia Squad: Tim Cahill (Everton), Nathan Coe (Sonderjysk Elitesport, Denmark), Luke DeVere (Gyeongnam, South Korea), Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers, England), Adam Federici (Reading, England), Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace, England), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus, Japan), Neil Kilkenny (Bristol City, England), Robbie Kruse (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany), Scott McDonald (Middlesbrough, England), Matt McKay (Brisbane Roar), Mark Milligan (JEF United, Japan), Lucas Neill (Al-Jazira, United Arab Emirates), Sasa Ognenovski (Seongham Ilwha Chunma, South Korea), Adam Sarota (Utrecht, Netherlands), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham, England), Matthew Spiranovic (Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan), James Troisi (Kayserispor, Turkey), Carl Valeri (US Sassuolo Calcio, Italy), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Michael Zullo (Utrecht). AP