Australia coach Osieck fumes at Asian clubs

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia coach Holger Osieck has slammed Asian clubs for failing to release a number of his players for the East Asian Cup, which starts on Saturday in Seoul.

“The foreign clubs created a lot of problems,” German Osieck said in a statement on Tuesday ahead of the four-nation tournament that also includes China, South Korea and Japan.

“I understand the games are not FIFA-protected but there is a gentleman’s agreement between the competing countries that players from the respective leagues should be released to play.

“If you host a tournament like this, for me it’s a no-brainer that players are released.”

Osieck said Japanese club Nagoya Grampus had denied him the use of beanpole striker Josh Kennedy, who scored a late goal against Iraq last month to seal Australia’s qualification for the next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil.

“I had a chat with (Dragan) Stojkovic (Nagoya Grampus’s manager) and he agreed to let him play but right away we got a letter from the club denying the release,” Osieck added.

“It’s not a good situation and I don’t accept it.”

Osieck named Kennedy in a provisional 24-man squad released on Tuesday for the tournament. It was unclear which other players were yet to be cleared.

A team spokesman declined to name them all, but said most had been “verbally” cleared by their clubs, including seven-cap defender Robbie Cornthwaite, who plays for South Korea’s Chunnam Dragons.

None of Australia’s top European players are in the squad and Osieck has called up 19 players from the domestic A-League and five from Asian clubs.

Australia play South Korea in their first match in Seoul on Saturday.

Squad: Mark Birighitti, Joshua Brillante, Nathan Coe, Robert Cornthwaite, Mitchell Duke, Ivan Franjic, Eugene Galekovic, Craig Goodwin, Tomi Juric, Josh Kennedy, Matt McKay, Ryan McGowan, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Mitch Nichols, Jade North, Connor Pain, Erik Paartalu, Trent Sainsbury, Adam Taggart, Archie Thompson, Michael Thwaite, Dario Vidosic, Ruben Zadkovich

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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