Second-leg specialists ready to lift Socceroos to Russia 2018

By Ben McKay, Ben McKay is a Roar Guru

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    On Wednesday the Socceroos’ World Cup fate will be decided, but it’s on Monday that Ange Postecoglou will see the great advantage he has over opponents Honduras.

    When Postecoglou takes training on Monday at ANZ Stadium, he’ll finally see his strongest squad on the park – at exactly the right time.

    Experienced campaigners Mark Milligan, Mat Leckie (suspension) and Robbie Kruse (knee) are available after sitting out the first leg.

    And for the first time since June, they’ll link with captain fantastic Mile Jedinak.

    In Jedinak’s last run of matches in the national team – in qualifiers against Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iraq earlier this year – Milligan, Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic took turns to be suspended or injured.

    But now they’re all in camp, and they’re all ready to play.

    Postecoglou has taken great pride in how he’s cultivated a group of players – not just a first 11 – to be ready for Socceroos duty.

    “It’s easier to manage when you have planned for it and we have planned for kind of these kind of scenarios were we have used as much of the squad as possible,” he said.

    “We don’t have a fixed starting eleven where I think we would have more issues.”

    Postecoglou foreshadowed a string of changes to his team to maximise the athletic challenge to Honduras.

    “A lot of our game is based around making the opposition work hard. Playing them back to back suits many respects our philosophy,” he said.

    “We’re going as hard as we can in both games and they’ll have to keep up.”

    Centre back Trent Sainsbury said the returning trio could make the difference.

    “They’re bringing a lot of caps back into the team. To have their qualities back is a major boost for us,” he said.

    Postecoglou can also call on Tim Cahill and James Troisi, who travelled to Honduras but didn’t play and should also be fresh.

    Sainsbury said Cahill’s presence had already made a difference, backing him to overcome an ankle complaint to take the field on Wednesday.

    “He’s looking fabulous as always,” he said.

    “He’s one of those people who can psyche you up before a game … he’s always special to have around, that’s why he’s super Timmy Cahill.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • November 13th 2017 @ 10:26am
      Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | November 13th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

      Thanks Ben, for your last two very good articles analysing the National team. Agree with you Jedinak was inspiring. I am now really feeling that Nikita Rukavytsya has to play more of a role in the final game against Honduras. I believe he has a superior ball striking technique over Juric’s, and so, should be given his chance on Wednesday night—it’s his time; for him to come into the starting XI in place of Juric or Kruse. The boy is on the cusp of smashing through any well constructed defence. Ange has done a magnificent job with this team of late and I sense he is going to call on Ruka, to start as a shock selection for the final game. Good luck Roos on Wednesday night.

      • Roar Guru

        November 13th 2017 @ 1:25pm
        Ben of Phnom Penh said | November 13th 2017 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

        I still think Ruka is better coming on around the 65 minute mark to start pressing tiring defenders. His pace can come into its own at that point.

        Jedinak’s exclusion may have more to do with his legs than his playing attributes. He has only recently returned from a long injury lay-off and may find it difficult to follow-up given the travel involved. Milligan, on the other hand, will be fresh as a daisy having undertaken no travel what-so-ever.

        Honduras have Elis back for this match and he will be fresh and raring to go.

        • November 13th 2017 @ 6:30pm
          Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | November 13th 2017 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

          Sound point on Jedinak there Ben, Milligan should be the obvious choice for Jedinak on Wednesday night. But, I still want to see Ruka given his deserved chance in the starting XI line up.

          • November 14th 2017 @ 3:37am
            Fadida said | November 14th 2017 @ 3:37am | ! Report

            Ruka has the pace to hurt a tiring side, but that apart I’m interested to know what you have seen from him that makes his inclusion “deserved”?

            • November 14th 2017 @ 6:53am
              punter said | November 14th 2017 @ 6:53am | ! Report

              Apparently they have scrapped the penalties, in its place of a 4×100 race at the end of game, if the game is a draw.
              But unlike the penalty shootout, the 4X100 can only be picked by the players who started the game. hence Ruka.

              • November 14th 2017 @ 8:58am
                Fadida said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

                We’d better start with Leckie then, recall Brad Smith

            • November 14th 2017 @ 10:17am
              Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

              Ruka has good technique, I like the way he attacks the ball and strikes it cleanly with power. He hasn’t had too many minutes on the park, but he certainly makes the most of them when he comes on. I have seen enough of Juric over three years or so, and for me, he is not going to take over TC mantle any time soon. I would like to see Ruka given 90min or at least 70 mins to see what he can do with it.

    • November 13th 2017 @ 11:56am
      me too said | November 13th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

      The team looked a lot more composed with Jedinak in the middle. Back in the nick of time.
      Still scratching my head as to why Timmy made the trip over, unless it was purely as a mentor – still think it more important we maximise his chances of being able to play the home leg, if needed.

      • November 13th 2017 @ 12:52pm
        Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | November 13th 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

        Yes it was, “purely as a mentor”, for the younger members of the team and his leadership qualities. Although he was moving around very well from what I saw of him in the training sessions, so he is definitely going to play some part in Wednesday blockbuster.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 3:39am
          Fadida said | November 14th 2017 @ 3:39am | ! Report

          He’s definitely the man you want around the change rooms

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