Host, The Hairdryer
Ange Postecoglou faces a mammoth task leading the Socceroos to Brazil and getting any change out of a daunting group. With an experienced spine and dynamic players in wide areas, there is plenty of talent in the final playing group to take a proud point or two home.
Socceroos players warm up during an Australian training session at Central Coast Stadium. Photo: Getty Images
Between the sticks, Mark Birighitti looks set to miss out on the trip of a lifetime, edged by Eugene Galekovic’s experience for the vacant spot behind Ryan and Langerak in one of the strongest custodial groups for years. Across the back, Alex Wilkinson and Josh Brillante look to fall victim to a flexible pool of players who can play across the back if called upon.
Up the middle, Oliver Bozanic will suffer for his lack of recent form, with McKay preferred as a utility, while Massimo Luongo has probably come into view a couple of years too early.
Dario Vidosic misses the cut by a whisker, with Postecoglou backing the dynamism of Tom Rogic as his Brazilian wildcard up the middle to put opposition teams on the back foot and ease the pressure on Milligan and Jedinak.
Up front, A-League golden boot winner Adam Taggart is unlucky to stay behind, his all not quite being enough to secure place in the biggest tournament on the planet.
The final 23 allows for cover in all areas of the pitch, with experience preferred over potential, and a first XI that can press high and try to disrupt the superior passing game of the three opponents within the group.
Missing out: Birighitti, Wilkinson, Brillante, Bozanic, Luongo, Vidosic, Taggart
Ange Postecoglou has to walk a tightrope in Brazil.
The Australia boss has to ensure that his tyro team is competitive against some of the best nations in the world to ensure that the Socceroos ”brand” is not sullied and the game’s standing damaged with the mainstream sporting public, many of whom only tune into football once every four years.
He has, at the same time, to experiment, to play younger men and see if they can cut it at the highest level of competition. What he learns in South America will have major ramifications for the national team in both the short and the long term.
While the World Cup is the glittering prize, Postecoglou must also have the Asian Cup, to be staged in this country early next year, right at the front of his mind.
Australia won’t win the World Cup – certainly not this time, and perhaps never, at least not while Rugby League and Union and Australian Rules grab huge numbers of the nation’s best young athletes.
But it can win the Asian Cup, where teams like Japan, South Korea, Iran, Uzbekistan and Iraq are the major challengers.
To that end this World Cup should be about finding out who can do the business, and who can’t.
For some – Mark Bresciano, Luke Wilkshire, Tim Cahill – it will be a swansong after glittering international careers, while for others, like Curtis Good and perhaps Massimo Luongo, it could be the launchpad at club and international level.
There has to be an emphasis on the younger men, although too much inexperience will cause problems. Youngsters might play without fear, but they sometimes play without worldly wisdom, which will be at a premium in matches against the likes of Holland, Spain and Chile.
Some of the players I have left out of this squad _ the Newcastle Jets trio of Josh Brillante, Mark Birighitti, and Adam Taggart _ should get other chances. So should Oliver Bozanic. Sarota is one of a surfeit of holding midfielders Australia can call on. Vidosic has had numerous opportunities to impress, and never fully done so. Wilkinson is a consistent
, but with youth in mind he is supplanted by more junior colleagues. I had strongly considered leaving Tom Rogic out given his dearth of football, injury problems lack of match sharpness and failure to impress at Melbourne Victory.
But he looks one of the few viable alternatives as a ”number ten” to Mark Bresciano, so he retains his place on the basis that tournament experience should prove invaluable for him and make him a much stronger option for the Asian Cup when Bresciano is gone.
If, of course, he can find a club where he gets regular game time next season…..
Missing out: Mark Birighitti, Josh Brillante, Alex Wilkinson, Oliver Bozanic, Dario Vidosic, Adam Sarota, Adam Taggart
Sydney Morning Herald
Spare a thought for the difficult task that awaits Ange Postecoglou when he has to tap seven players on the shoulder. There’s little separating a bulk of the squad in these early stages of the training camp but in many ways, the make-up of the final 23 has already been decided by other factors.
The group of death that awaits Australia has made their aspirations clear – play bravely with hope for one result against three genuine heavyweights.
If they’re to do this then their performance in the first half of a friendly against Ecuador is their benchmark and those who started are assumed inclusions.
But for those who didn’t, there are an abundance of places up for grabs and that shifts the focus beyond Brazil.
Matt McKay’s form and experience is valuable but his best virtue in this squad is his versatility but that is now only offered in positions Australia has depth in.
Alex Wilkinson’s chance came too late in his career and only exceptional performances will prevent Bailey Wright being given the nod.
James Holland will face pressure from rising stars Adam Sarota and Oliver Bozanic. While this may not be popular to say, Tom Rogic is not assured yet. His wealth of talent is not matched by the two other integral components, form and fitness and he must shine against South Africa on May 26 to seal his path.
For all the talented youth at Ange’s disposal, there are some who must wait their turn. Josh Brillante, Adam Taggart and Massimo Luongo have long careers ahead of them but perhaps Russia is their stage to shine.
Missing out: Mark Birighitti, Alex Wilkinson, Josh Brillante, Massimo Luongo, James Holland, James Troisi, Adam Taggart
Having already culled many just to make the 30-man squad, it won’t be easy for Ange Postecoglou to take out a knife and choose his final 23.
However, it does appear he will favour experience over youth at the last stage – and understandably so, having already dispensed with several veteran campaigners. Mark Birighitti is unlikely to challenge for one of the three goalkeeping spots, which appear set in stone, with Mat Ryan going as the team’s first choice. Birighitti’s Newcastle Jets teammates Josh Brillante (pictured) and Adam Taggart, also appear to be unlikely options to remain standing.
With his impressive finish to the year, James Troisi now seems the clear favourite over Taggart to be one of the attacking options in Brazil. Much has been made of the inclusion of Massimo Luongo and Bailey Wright, given they play in England’s third tier, and that might count against them both.
Wright would probably need to jump ahead of Alex Wilkinson in the pecking order during the training camp, a tough ask given the latter’s strong form in the K-League. Luongo is more likely to have been included in the 30-man squad just so that he could be closely assessed by Postecoglou with an eye to the future.
Tom Rogic has probably trained well enough in camp to lock down his place. Adam Sarota might be the unluckiest to miss out, with Dario Vidosic, having impressed in Switzerland, potentially edging him out for the final ticket to Rio.
Missing out: Mark Birighitti, Josh Brillante, Bailey Wright, Oliver Bozanic, Massimo Luongo, Adam Sarota, Adam Taggart
Socceroos 30-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan, Mitch Langerak, Eugene Galekovic.
Defenders: Ivan Franjic, Jason Davidson, Luke Wilkshire, Curtis Good, Matthew Spiranovic, Ryan McGowan, Bailey Wright.
Midfielders: Oliver Bozanic, Mark Bresciano, Mile Jedinak, Mark Milligan, Adam Sarota, Tommy Oar, Tom Rogic, Dario Vidosic, Ben Halloran.
Strikers: Josh Kennedy, Tim Cahill, Dario Vidosic, Matthew Leckie, Adam Taggart.
Source : The Sydney Morning Herald