Emerton determined to prove worth

December 1, 2012
By Angela Habashy

Having only donned a Socceroos jersey once this year, stalwart Brett Emerton is determined to use his selection for this week's East Asian Cup qualifiers to prove he still has a lot to offer the national team.

With 92 caps under his belt - second only to Mark Schwarzer as Australia's most capped player - Emerton is by far the most experienced player in coach Holger Osieck's 20-man squad of predominantly fresh faces.

Chosen as captain, he will use his vast experience to lead and assist the many youngsters endeavouring to stake claims to a Socceroos future during the five-team tournament in Hong Kong starting on Monday.

But Emerton is honest enough to admit he also has something to prove and will be trying hard to make sure he remains on coach Holger Osieck's radar.

The 33-year-old Sydney FC midfielder has undergone off-season ankle surgery and battled to regain form since his last match in the green and gold in Australia's 4-2 win over Saudi Arabia in February.

"Without doubt I'm looking to impress in Hong Kong," Emerton told AAP.

"It's been a long time since I played for the national team.

"So it's great to be involved once again and I see it as a great opportunity to come here and impress and show Holger that I've still got something to offer."

Apart from Archie Thompson (42 caps) and Matt McKay (29) the 17 others in Osieck's squad have a combined total of just 46 caps between them, with eight in line to make their international debut.

With the tournament not on FIFA sanctioned dates many oversees-based players were unavailable so Osieck plundered the A-League and is using the tournament to help develop the young players and trial them under the pressures of international competition.

And Emerton feels there's no better way to make an impression on the coach than by getting results.

"It's very important to win these games and qualify," he said.

"Obviously the Socceroos are in a transition phase at the moment so this is a great opportunity for the young players to stake their claim to be part of the Socceroos in the future and if we qualify they'll just be giving themselves another great opportunity to do that again.

""Holger will be able to see how each of them cope at international level and I'm sure a few of them will impress and feature in the next World Cup qualifiers."

The Socceroos kick off their campaign on Monday against Hong Kong (11:30pm AEDT) before facing North Korea - likely their toughest opponents - Guam and Taiwan in a gruelling schedule of four games in seven days.

Should they finish first in the group Australia will join South Korea, Japan and China in next year's showpiece.