Oct 7 (Reuters) - Australia captain Lucas Neill feels the Socceroos need to strike the right balance between youth and experience for the side to make an impact at their third consecutive World Cup finals next year.
A lacklustre qualifying campaign and a 6-0 humiliation by World Cup hosts Brazil in a friendly last month have seen the Australian team and coach Holger Osieck come under intense scrutiny back home ahead of the 2014 tournament.
Neill, who played in the last two World Cups, feels the younger members of the squad will play a key role in Australia's ambitions of matching or improving on their exit at the last 16 stage in 2006.
"It's a big debate now in our country about out with the old and in with the young," Neill told Japanese media in an interview on Monday. "But my feeling is that the guys are young and they still need some experience around them.
"They're still learning how to play football. They're still learning how to play domestically and how to play internationally," the 35-year-old added.
"We need a good chemistry, a balance of old and young. We have some young players now, everybody's got the tag of potential. And we're just hoping one or two will step out."
The defender, who recently signed for Japanese club Omiya Ardija, has been part of a squad trying to make the tricky transition from an ageing generation to a younger group.
The presence of players such as Neill, Mark Bresciano and Tim Cahill (both 33), and 41-year-old goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in the latest squad suggests they have only partially succeeded in achieving the target.
Neill, who has also played for English Premier League clubs Everton and Blackburn Rovers, and Turkish side Galatasaray, added that he planned to hang up his boots after the Asian Cup on home soil in 2015, of which he is the official ambassador.
The tournament would be the "perfect time" to hand over the mantle to the younger Socceroos, Neill said. (Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O'Brien)
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