Sat, Jul 07, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Socceroo players' reputations count for nothing: Grella

AFP , BANGKOK

Vince Grella, one of a cluster of big European stars in the Australian team, says their reputations will count for nothing at the Asian Cup.

Grella, who sealed a move to Torino from Italian Serie A rivals Parma just before joining the team, says it is unchartered waters for the Socceroos in their first Asian Cup since switching to the Asian confederation last year.

The Australians have created huge interest since arriving in Thailand from acclimatizing in Singapore with their English Premier League stars Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill, Brett Emerton, Lucas Neill and Mark Schwarzer.

favorites

The strength of the Australian squad, which upset predictions by reaching the second round of last year's World Cup in Germany, makes them the logical favorites to win the tournament at the first attempt.

But defensive midfielder Grella is not being seduced by the clamor around his team and says Australia have to prove themselves on the pitch, starting with Oman tomorrow.

"There aren't too many favorites when you're on the pitch and your profile counts for little if you can't perform at the time," Grella said yesterday.

"You need to back your profile with the performances on the pitch. It's true we have big players, we have big names, but they are going to have to prove themselves game by game in the Asian Cup, which is a new tournament for everyone," he said.

new opportunity

Grella savors the new opportunity presented to Australian football in qualifying for future World Cups through Asia, starting with South Africa in 2010.

"The players really didn't decide about the move [to Asia] but we're happy with the move, obviously, being part of this tournament and future World Cup qualifiers," he said.

Australia had to get past Argentina and Uruguay in previous failed World Cup qualification campaigns, before beating Uruguay in a penalty shoot-out in the final eliminator in November 2005 to qualify for Germany last year.

"It was very hard to pass through the South American part and we have great respect for the Asian nations and the way they've progressed with their football," he said. "They've followed the same road as us in the past seven or eight years and we've really improved together and hopefully it will be a great challenge for the team."

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