Are the Socceroos being weakened by Asian qualification?
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck issues instructions in the World Cup Qualifer match against Iraq. (Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro)
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There is one simple reason why the Socceroos lost 6-0 to Brazil in this morning’s international friendly.
The result had nothing to do with the coach, players or tactics in my opinion. Defeats like this will always be a formality so long as the Socceroos continue to qualify for the World Cup through Asia.
In the Rugby Championship, Argentina is currently competing against Rugby superpowers the Springboks, All Blacks and Wallabies.
Despite not winning a game thus far, I know that the Pumas are slowly but surely developing the mentality and skill necessary to perhaps one day register a victory against such tough opposition.
When Argentina plays in the Rugby Championship, it is the equivalent of a novice mountain climber trying to climb Mt Everest each and every year.
While the obstacles in front of the Pumas are intimidating to say the least, Argentina will continue to fight to meet the high standards required to perhaps register victory against the best teams on the planet.
And when victory is finally secured against either South Africa, New Zealand or Australia, the confidence and belief that Argentina will get from such a result will be limitless.
Which brings me to my point about the Socceroos.
When Australia qualified for the 2006 World Cup, they truly earned their place at football’s showpiece event given that they conquered two-time World Cup winners Uruguay over two extremely difficult legs.
Australia’s victory over Uruguay showed that the Socceroos had the mentality and skill necessary to make a name for themselves in Germany.
And so they did, beating Japan 3-1 before drawing with Croatia and (you guessed it) going toe-to-toe against Brazil before losing 2-0.
Then came the infamous 1-0 defeat against eventual winners Italy. It took a Francesco Totti penalty right on full time to end the hopes of a very stubborn and well-coached Socceroos outfit.
The reason why Australia was such a thorn against any side back then is because of the tremendously difficult route they had to take to quality for a World Cup.
Playing against tough South American opposition to qualify for a World Cup allowed the Socceroos to measure themselves against quality players and quality coaches.
If the Socceroos could pass this difficult agoge, then they knew that they had what it took to challenge any team come World Cup time, as was the case back in 2006.
Since switching to Asia however, the Socceroos are now expected to qualify for football’s showpiece event pretty easily and yet now the team barely secured their passage to Brazil in a group containing Iraq, Japan, Jordan and Oman.
In short, the Socceroos have developed a soft underbelly in comparison to the side that really had to work for qualification back in 2005.
While qualifying through South America will leave many Socceroos fans with hearts in their mouths, I believe qualifying through this route will once again push Australia to its limits, and if they get through, they will develop the belief and skill necessary to challenge any team on the planet.
If the Socceroos continue to qualify through Asia however, results like the 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Brazil may continue to eventuate at the highest level.