Young stars suffering post-Olympic depression
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Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has revealed some concern about the future of Australian football, admitting he is disappointed in the development of the country’s young stars.
The Dutchman provided a frank assessment of how the under-23 players involved in the Beijing Olympics campaign had not yet taken “the next step” in what he said could be the result of a “post-Olympic depression”.
Of the Olympic generation only Adam Federici, Bruce Djite and Mark Milligan earned call-ups to the squad for Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Bahrain with Milligan ruled out through injury and Federici and Djite set for bench spots at best.
“I have to be fair, I had expected more progression from the Olympic generation,” Verbeek said in Bahrain.
“On the other hand, I also understand that players who have been to the Olympics, they are struggling a little bit.
“I mentioned already, it is a post-Olympic depression probably.”
But Verbeek has not given up hope on the crop of young talent, and said the players had the perfect opportunity to prove their worth in the lead-up to the 2011 Asian Cup, with qualifiers beginning in January.
“If you have quality, and a lot of the players have quality, they can show it in the coming months,” Verbeek said.
“We are playing the Asian Cup, we are picking especially A-League players, so then they can show.”
Verbeek drafted a host of young players, including Djite, Milligan, James Holland, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Ruben Zadkovich, into Socceroos training camps in June as part of his assessment of the wider talent pool.
He said even if the players weren’t ready for selection now, they still had plenty of opportunity to lay a platform for international careers.
“I always look for players like (Celtic and Socceroos striker) Scott McDonald, who two years ago he was quite unknown and nobody gave anything for his career,” Verbeek said.
“Last year he scored 30 goals and has signed a five-year contract for Celtic so I don’t give up on the players I saw.
“I have confidence that they can manage and make the next step.
” … The ones who are strong and good enough will take the step and the ones who are not, they are probably not good enough for the future.”
Meanwhile, Verbeek said he was happy to hear Mark Viduka had returned to training with Newcastle but remained cautious as to whether the veteran striker would come into contention for the World Cup qualifier against Japan in February.
“I always said Mark Viduka is on my list, like so many other players, so we are looking forward to seeing him back on the field,” Verbeek said.
“But first I want to see it before I believe it.”© AAP 2013