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Newcastle striker Mark Viduka to skip Australia's World Cup qualifiers
Published : 30 May 2009 12:26:33
Viduka was last week left out of the Socceroos' 30-man squad for the three matches against Qatar in Doha on June 7, Bahrain in Sydney on June 10 and Japan in Melbourne on June 17 after Verbeek gave the former national captain extra time to decide whether he wanted to play for his country or not. The negative response came today when Viduka contacted Verbeek to advise that he would not be available for selection for the upcoming three matches. Viduka, 33, is out of contract after Newcastle were relegated last week. "He told me that after a difficult season he needed a break from football to consider his future plans," Verbeek said. "Mark is currently out of contract and, while he is deciding what to do next, it would be difficult for him to fully concentrate on these important matches for Australia. "We respect his decision and wish him all the best over the coming weeks as he makes his next important decision." Verbeek last week rejected claims the big striker would not play for Australia again. "Definitely not," the coach emphatically stated when asked if it was the end of Viduka's career for the Socceroos. "I have left another spot open for him. So it's up to him, the ball is completely in his court." Viduka has not played for Australia since the 2007 Asian Cup quarter-final against Japan in Hanoi in July. The Socceroos need just one point from the remaining matches to reach their second straight World Cup finals.