Exclusive Interview with captain Lucas Neill
Socceroos defender Lucas Neill has said there was never any doubt that he and the rest of the overseas players, would be back to play Qatar in the first game of Australia’s qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Socceroos defender Lucas Neill has said there was never any doubt that he and the rest of the overseas players, would be back to play Qatar in the first game of Australia-s qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Neill, who will captain the Socceroos out onto the Telstra Dome pitch, revealed exclusively to www.footballaustralia.com.au that it was always his intention to be in it for the long haul, as he is keen to enjoy the World Cup experience again.
While there has been much conjecture in Australia, about the merits of rushing the overseas players back in the middle of a busy time with their clubs in Europe, Neill and the rest of the boys never had any doubts they would back.
“It-s massive,” was Neill-s response to how important he and the players view this game. “That was the question (his West Ham teammates would ask), as to why did you want to come out and play in this game in between two Premier League games.
“It-s simple; we want to make the World Cup.”
Neill, who is also captain of West Ham, knows the importance of getting off to a quick start in the qualifiers and how that can ease the pressure as we get further into the qualifying rounds.
“The quicker we can get there; the quicker we should be trying to win our games; we don-t want to leave anything to chance and down to conditions (later on). Where everyone else is going to try and make it a level playing field, whether it be playing at three o-clock in 40 degrees or playing at altitude, we want to make sure we get the points on the board, with no excuses.
“We want to try and get that journey that we had last time, where we had some amazing memories and basically turned football on its head and made it an unbelievable sport here.”
With the big issue about their return, concerning the effects of jet-lag in the game, Neill said he was fine and was more concerned about the level of his tan, compared to his fellow Aussies.
“No, we have got rid of the jet-lag I think; pretty experienced now in the long haul flying,” he said. “The only thing I was worried about when I got back home, is just how white I am compared to everyone else. I really miss the Aussie summer and I really haven-t had a chance to get under the sun.
“There are some good tans kicking about and the likes of me and Emo (Brett Emerton) are really struggling.”
He is also not too concerned about coming back to a hot Melbourne, with the boys looking forward to playing in some warmer weather.
“No, I don-t think so,” has said, when asked if Qatar would be better suited to the warmer weather. “It-s not quite as hot as it was when we were in Asia and even though we have come from colder European climates I think we will settle in ok.
“We seemed to be alright in training, so I-m looking forward to the game and I don-t think that will be an issue.”
The 29-year-old from the northern beaches of Sydney readily admits the team is underprepared for this game, but believes the familiarity the players have built up over the years, will stand the team in good stead against the Qataris.
“We definitely haven-t had enough time to prepare - no. But being the versatile players that we are now and we-re familiar with having to come in and be ready in 48 hours to play. I think we have adapted well in the past and I think everybody knows everyone-s style.
“The only style we-ve got to get used to is Pim-s style; we-ve got a good grasp of that now and hopefully we can go out and execute that, probably not to its best, but close enough to it and I think we-ll definitely do the job.”