Australian football must learn from Olyroos failure

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On the back of a disastrous Olympic qualification campaign where the Olyroos failed to score in six matches, the FFA must raise both elite and grassroots standards to build a senior side capable of winning a World Cup.

A largely new-look squad were unable to prevent Australia from finishing bottom of Group B with just four points from their six matches. And while you can’t fault the efforts of the youthful side and the way they overcame the obstacles of a limited preparation, the campaign was bitterly disappointing and the football community must take responsibility.

The positive to take from it is now there can be an in-depth analysis. Australia must continue to strive towards improving the technical ability and knowledge of our younger players.

We must improve the way we develop our young players and the way they are coached from the age of five to 16 and beyond. Australia must replicate development models implemented around the world.

To be the best, you must learn from the best. And there is no doubting that Spain is the best. They have created one of the most formidable international sides in history thanks to a more dedicated and technical approach at grassroots level.

We need to develop Australian players with the hope that they will eventually break into the first teams of elite clubs around the world and then into the international team, nurturing youngsters through a more dedicated coaching development program.

Why has Australia struggled to produce world-class players over recent years? Personally, I think the answer lies in how our society has developed in the last decade or so.

The distractions in modern day society are hard to ignore. Kids now spend their time tweeting and texting rather than out at a park kicking a ball.

The domestic competition needs to continue to grow and the FFA have taken an important step that needed to be taken for the future of Australian football by establishing an A-League team in Sydney’s western suburbs.

The level of participation in that area – for boys and girls – is high, and they need to be inspired to play football for their country.

The true effect of the current revolution in thinking in Australian football will not be truly felt at national team level until 2018, when our current crop of 18 year olds are then 25 and experienced professionals ingrained in the system.

As for 2014, there is no doubting Holger Osieck will have his work cut out. Australia will be unable to field a team of talented 21 year olds in Brazil and expect the success that we had in 2006 with the experience of Moore, Bresciano, and Cahill.

The difference between the class of 2006 and 2014 will be substantial. No doubt the likes of Mustafa Amini, Terry Antonis and Mitch Nichols are the future of Australian football, along with Eli Babalj, who continues to show signs that he could develop into a striker in the mould of Mark Viduka.

These players could be another golden generation of Australian talent, but 2014 will be here a bit too soon for them.

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