Socceroos: Tough decision awaits Melbourne City’s Mat Leckie
Mat Leckie is yet to decide whether will again turn down Socceroos selection for next month’s World Cup qualifiers.
The anguish of missing a Socceroos camp and two World Cup qualifiers has Mat Leckie unsure what he will do when Australia returns to action next month in matches against Oman and Japan.
Melbourne City’s new star signing made the tough decision to turn down Socceroos selection earlier this month for Australia’s games against China and Vietnam.
The prospect of being forced to serve two weeks of hotel quarantine on returning from Hanoi didn’t sit well with Leckie, who with his wife has two children and a third due in December.
A mainstay of the Socceroos line-up for several years, Leckie found it difficult to watch as Australia opened the latest round of AFC World Cup qualifiers with 3-0 and 1-0 wins.
“It was tough,” said the 30-year-old attacker and the owner of 65 Socceroos caps.
“For so many years I’ve very rarely missed any of the camps.
“I love play for the national team. It’s always such a good honour, and not just that, but being around the boys, it’s a really good environment. It’s a good bunch of lads.
“I wanted to be out there. I was more nervous watching than what I would have been playing.”
Leckie was both relieved and thrilled with the Socceroos starting their Group B campaign with two victories after winning eight straight in the previous round of qualifiers.
“I was just so happy they got the two wins,” he said.
“It’s a really important part of the qualification – you need to get off to a good start.
“Six points from six – you couldn’t get any better.”
Leckie is yet to decide whether he will again knock back selection for Australia’s October qualifiers against Oman and Japan.
The game against Oman is a Socceroos home match but is set to again be played in Doha, as was Australia’s “home” win over China.
The match against Japan is an away clash in Saitama.
I don’t really know what I will do just yet. That’s something I have to make a decision about at some point,” said Leckie, who continues to prepare for his return A-League season after spending 10 years in Germany.
“It’s a longer pre-season that what I’m used to, but I had longer time off than normal,” he said.
“When I came to City, the first day was probably the unfittest I’d been in a long time because I hadn’t had such a long time off, so it helps to have a longer pre-season for me to get as fit as possible for when we do start playing.”
Leckie scored for reigning champions City in a 2-1 weekend trial win over Western United.
“It was good to come up against some A-League opposition to see where we’re at,” he said.
“The club’s put together a very good team. We’ve got a lot of quality players and we’ve got awesome depth.
“The boys set a high standard last year by winning the double, and we want to go that next level. We know clubs are going to try to knock us off.
“Come game day one, there’ll be no excuses.”