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http://www1.sbs.com.au/home/index.php3?id=55389

SBS can reveal the EXCLUSIVE news that Gerard Houllier, National Technical Director for the French Football Association from 1990 to 1998, will be coming to Australia to examine and recommend sweeping changes to player development in this country.

Football Federation Australia Chief Executive Officer John O'Neill (pictured) says while Houllier's age and health will prevent him staying long term, the famed Frenchman's expertise will be invaluable in raising the quality of Australian football.

“Gerard will be here in the not too distant future. He has already been provided with a lot of information to get him familiar with what we have and he will be here within the next couple of months – to spend three weeks and then to come back regularly to work with me, John Boultbee, Ron Smith and Frank Farina on looking at what our systems; our youth developments programs are, and how we can improve them.,” O’Neill told SBS’ Toyota World Sports.

Meantime, O'Neill has confirmed FFA is close to a move from the Oceania Football Confederation to the Asian organisation. National coach Frank Farina has also thrown his weight behind the move saying it would enhance the standard of opposition for his side.

The news came as Farina named a 29 man squad for the Easter weekend matches, ironically against Asian opponents Iraq and Indonesia. Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka and Ned Zelic are again absent from the list.

Twenty nine players, five of them from A-League sides and according to coach Frank Farina, all of them should play some part in one, the other or both of Australia's matches with Iraq and Indonesia.

“It’s a bit difficult to expect to go into both the games with the same side and it’s unrealistic I think - with all the travel that’s involved and the short period between the two games. So there are a lot of these boys that will get opportunities,” said Farina.

As the Socceroos prepare to face two AFC nations, it seems that could be a more regular feature for the national side, with the FFA close a move to the Asian Football Confederation.

“Discussions have been under way for some months - particularly with FIFA, AFC, and OFC. Now from FIFA there’s a way forward but there are very important procedural steps that need to be taken at the AFC and OFC levels."

"The key in all this, is for AFC to extend the invitation for us to take up membership,” O’Neill said.

Australia's fellow OFC nations have responded in differing ways. Some voicing concerns, others relishing the thought of a confederation without the Socceroos. The organistation itself had no official comment to make.

Yet from a playing point of view, there's no doubt that the move would be hugely beneficial for the Socceroos.

“In terms of the national team it goes away from being seven days in four years that you have to perform in two games. If you have a bad day at the office you are gone."

"Now you are looking at Asian Cup; you are looking at World Cup qualifiers; where you can have maybe one, two, three bad days at the office and still get through,” said Farina.
 
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