Striker Mark Viduka has been named Socceroos captain for next month’s World Cup finals in Germany. Viduka, who captained Australia in its World Cup play-off win over Uruguay last November was given the job ahead of former skipper Craig Moore.
Moore was the long time captain under previous coach Frank Farina but missed the Uruguay games through injury. Socceroos coach Guus Hiddink said the 30-year-old Middlesbrough striker deserved the honour because he had done so well leading the team against Uruguay.
“He did very well in the qualifying rounds and took his responsibility very seriously,” Hiddink said. “With Craig we considered it more convenient for him as he comes back from injury to concentrate on getting his role in the team.”
Viduka said he had mixed emotions about his appointment as captain as he would be taking over from Moore, a long-time friend who has recently struggled with injury and is fighting for a starting place. “It’s a difficult situation to be in because we both enjoy leading the team,” Viduka said. “But I think both players, whether it was him or myself as captain, we both would have been happy for each other, and the main thing is we’re all one team and that’s how both of us feel.”
Hiddink said Viduka’s commitment to the side had impressed him during his tenure as Australian coach. “When we came together the first time he said ‘I have never been on a World Cup stage, desperately I want to be there’,” he said. “And from day one he worked very hard, not just on himself but also when we were together on the team to get the job done.”
Hiddink also said that he is more concerned about Harry Kewell’s recovery ahead of the World Cup than injured striker Tim Cahill. Kewell is the only member of the squad of 23 not in Melbourne for Thursday’s clash with Greece, and although Hiddink believes the star midfielder will be fit in time for Australia’s World Cup opener against Japan, he is concerned he will be underdone.
“He can be fit just before the starting game, but what we are now doing is building up the physical and working on tactics and strategies in the upcoming time towards the first game,” Hiddink said. www.sportal.com.au.
Australia plays the first of its pre-World Cup friendly matches against Greece at the MCG on Thursday 25 May. British Eurosport will be showing the game live at 9:30am (British summer time).