Socceroos hoping to put divisive week behind them
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou no doubt hopes a solid performance against Bangladesh in Perth tonight will help his players put a divisive week behind them.
Tim Cahill will captain the Australian side as it looks to continue its march towards qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
It is the Socceroos' first fixture in Perth for 10 years, and a sellout crowd is expected to be on hand for what should be an easy win against a team ranked 170 in the world.
The lead-up to the game has unfortunately been overshadowed by the ongoing row between Football Federation Australia and the Professional Footballers Association, which represents the players.
PFA chief executive Adam Vivian said more than $1.4 million was owed to A-League players, and instructed them not to attend "commercial" appearances to promote the World Cup qualifier. The boycott angered the FFA, with chief executive David Gallop saying both parties were close to an agreement.
Postecoglou, who is employed by FFA, bought into the issue on Tuesday, criticising both parties for using the World Cup qualifying camp as a political football.
Yesterday, however, he issued a retraction, saying he had made the criticisms out of frustration.
"I acknowledge that the PFA initiated the regrettable situation that has distracted us in Perth," he said. "I understand the FFA was compelled to respond in order to explain its position to the game's stakeholders.
"I call on the PFA to undertake that no future Socceroo camp will be targeted in this way."
Postecoglou will have plenty of firepower on the field tonight, with Tom Rogic, Mathew Leckie, Cahill, Nathan Burns and Massimo Luongo all in good form for their clubs in Europe and Asia. Rogic has scored in his past two games for Celtic in Scotland.
Adding extra interest are a few new faces in the squad, including Alex Cisak - a goalkeeper who plays for Leyton Orient in England's League Two.
A-League midfielders Luke Brattan and Aaron Mooy will also play, and Lazio's Chris Ikonomidis will get his first opportunity in the green-and-gold on Aussie soil.
Assistant coach Ante Milicic said he was confident the team could overcome the absence of injured trio Mile Jedinak, Tomi Juric and Robbie Kruse.
"Robbie's missed out which is unfortunate and Mile's had that setback but it's a really good opportunity for a couple of new faces to come in," Milicic said.
"It also shows Ange is rewarding players for their good form. So competition for places is healthy."
Jedinak will also miss the World Cup qualifier away to Tajikistan next Tuesday night.