What will the Socceroos look like in 2014?
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Now that the World Cup is over and everyone has recovered from a sleep-deprived month, how would we summarise the Socceroos’ performance? I would say we started with a poor performance against Germany followed by two strong performances against Ghana and Serbia.
We were dealt a difficult hand, and despite a worthy effort, we missed out on the group stage on goal difference due to the 4-0 loss to Germany.
On reflection, I think the final standings were about what was expected, with Australia, Serbia and Ghana all very close on points and Germany topping the group.
But that’s in the past now.
What about the future? What can we expect from the Socceroos in Brazil 2014? How is our squad shaping up?
It’s a long way off yet, but let’s look at who we will lose from the 2010 squad and who might replace them. Let’s start with the obvious: we are guaranteed to lose Craig Moore and Scott Chipperfield to retirement and I think we are also likely to lose Lucas Neill, Brett Emerton, Michael Beauchamp, Richard Garcia and Harry Kewell.
Tim Cahill, Mark Bresciano and Vince Grella may make the squad, but they will not be the same players they are today. It seems like a huge amount of talent to lose, but we don’t yet know how well the next crop may develop over the next four years.
Who do we have that can step up to the next level for 2014? Let’s look at a 4-4-2 formation and see who could cover each position.
Left Back: David Carney has shown he is capable of filling this role and I sincerely hope that over the next four years Scott Jamieson can lift his game to the level required to challenge Carney for this position.
Right Back: Rhys Williams would have been in the 2010 squad if not for injury and if Luke Wilkshire is not up to it at 32 in four years time, we have a good backup.
Central Defense: Mark Milligan is capable of doing the job and I hope that over the next four years both Matthew Spiranovic and Shane Lowry can reach the level required to fight for the second position. If experience is needed, at 33 years of age in 2014, we can possibly use Michael Beauchamp in his third World Cup.
Left Wing: Everyone is talking about Tommy Oar and in truth he looks like a very promising prospect. We can only hope that over the next four year he is able to gain the experience required and show that he can perform consistently in the Eredivisie with FC Utrecht.
Oliver Bozanic is another left winger that has potential.
Right Wing: Dario Vidosic was bitterly disappointed not to get any game time in South Africa and has shown he can perform at international level. With another four years experience he represents another good prospect.
Central Midfield: At 29, Jason Culina has said he has another five or six years in him. There is no doubting his quality and I think he is a realistic contender for a central midfield position. Carl Valeri has also shown he is capable of filling this role and Mile Jedinak can also challenge for this position.
Strikers: I still think Scott McDonald has the ability to score goals for the Socceroos. I just hope he is given more chances. We know Josh Kennedy can score with head, but I’d like to see him improve his foot skills.
Playing with Nagoya Grampus in Japan, I hope will be able to do that.
I think this pair have the potential to form a formidable strike combination. The question is whether the potential can be fulfilled. If not, we have other prospects like Nikita Rukavytsya, Nathan Burns and Bruce Djite.
So all things considered, here is a potential Socceroos team for 2014:
Defenders: Rhys Williams, Matthew Spiranovic, Mark Milligan, David Carney
Midfielders: Dario Vidosic, Jason Culina, Carl Valeri, Tommy Oar
Strikers: Scott McDonald, Josh Kennedy
The above shows that we have players capable of filling all positions on the park and I think this is a high quality team. But is it world class?
At this stage, I think this remains to be seen, but with another four years experience to come, I think we have good reason to be excited about the future. I intend to revisit this in February after the AFC Asian Cup, so I will be very interested to see if much changes between now and then.
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