Australia need a striker, the question is where and when?

George K Roar Pro

By George K, George K is a Roar Pro

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    Following Tim Cahill’s departure from Melbourne City and the national team’s performance against Honduras, the question that must be asked is: from where does Australia intend to get its goals?

    If we look at the Honduran game, all three of Australia’s goals came from set-pieces. I do wonder where the Socceroos will find that extra ‘oomph’ up forward.

    Naturally, we must turn elsewhere to find ourselves a striker.

    According to the Socceroos website, their three main strikers are Cahill, Tomi Juric and Matthew Leckie.

    However, we have seen goals come from Mile Jedinak and Tom Rogic in recent memory. And of course no-one can overstate the influential capabilities of Aaron Mooy on a good day.

    The Socceroos can pass the ball, control it, maybe even skill it here and there – but if they don’t have the confidence nor talent to shoot, then they are not going to win.

    While I am beyond words to express how happy I am that Australia have qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, I am haunted by Omar Al Soma’s free kick in the dying minutes in the Syria game.

    One kick, one kick that Mat Ryan admitted he “couldn’t see”, one gut-wrenching deflection into the box, would have cost Australia their position.

    Other contributors play a role, but had Australia been able to finish the Syrian game early and kill it off, then we wouldn’t have been gasping for breath.

    Even in Honduras, Australia’s finishing was not up to standard for many viewers and at home; the issue was resolved through set pieces; whether we like it or not, the Socceroos just do not have that desperately needed clinical edge.

    The solution? It lies within the A-League.

    There are two distinct sides on how we should grow the game in Australia. One camp believes that we should be attracting as many big-name stars as possible – generating more revenue, which can then be used to improve facilities and the competition, which in turn lures more big names to ultimately create an extremely competitive league with an international reach (idealistic sure but nether less the ultimate goal).

    The other group believes the A-League should exist to develop more national players who move on to other leagues; ultimately in this model, the A-League acts solely to develop national players and is unconcerned with attracting big names.

    I favour of the latter approach. Yes, it means the A-League does not grow nearly as much as we would like in the short term, but the opportunity to see Australians in the ‘big leagues’ should attract more of the public to watch the local games to see where it all began.

    This can be shown during my own experience when watching the game against Honduras. It was halftime and I checked my messages to see a large amount of friends who never spoke about football or the A-League suddenly express their passion for the Socceroos. These are people who rarely talk about sports or are only vaguely aware of it.

    The national team and the World Cup has the ability to bring together Australians from everywhere, regardless of their codes, and generate interest in football.

    Tom Rogic Socceroos tall

    JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images

    Admittedly, such a phenomenon can only occur every four years, but it shouldn’t need to.

    Matthew Ryan, Aaron Mooy and of course Mile Jedinak are just a few of the textbook cases where we have seen quality national players stem from the A-League and branch out to highly recognisable clubs, becoming household names.

    With the correct investment in the local comp, we’ll see more locals playing for the world’s top clubs, which in turn can cause traditional media to report on the success of Aussie players globally. This generates more Australian interest and then more passion towards the A-League, as those who just watch European football become aware of the quality right under their noses.

    We can already see the effects of this through Melbourne City. In early 2015, the club announced plans to build a state of the art training facility. Since then, City have been one of the big-name teams in Australia, with Aaron Mooy creating headlines internationally.

    Whoever takes over from Ange Postecoglou at the end of the day must consider the A-League. The national team is in a desperate need of a breath of fresh air up front, and if Cahill can’t find gametime, then it is unlikely we will be idealistic and attacking in Russia – instead slogging through 0-0 draws and lucky scrapes.

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    The Crowd Says (40)

    • December 14th 2017 @ 6:46am
      Kurt said | December 14th 2017 @ 6:46am | ! Report

      Problem is australia hasnt had a true stiker for the last 30 years, even in the golden generation we played with forwards not strikers.

      • Roar Pro

        December 14th 2017 @ 7:10am
        George K said | December 14th 2017 @ 7:10am | ! Report

        Here’s hoping we can get some change then,

        It might have worked 30 years ago in the golden generation but I doubt such a plan would work well in 2018.

      • December 14th 2017 @ 7:35am
        Fadida said | December 14th 2017 @ 7:35am | ! Report

        You might need to define “forwards” and “strikers”.

        Viduka, though a modest scorer at national level, was prolific at club level.
        Aloisi was a striker.
        Mori a striker

        • Roar Pro

          December 14th 2017 @ 7:40am
          George K said | December 14th 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

          Yeah, looking back I probably should have defined the difference – maybe the Socceroos need to look for a good goal scorer? Whether that takes the form of a striker or centre forward is yet to be seen.

          • December 14th 2017 @ 11:53am
            Fadida said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            I wasl responding to Kurt, George. We have had plenty of good strikers in the last 30 years. Farina is another

            • December 14th 2017 @ 2:14pm
              Albo said | December 14th 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

              It all comes down to your definition of a “good” striker, especially at the International level. Whilst we have had a few strikers that have excelled at Club level like Viduka, Farina, Ray Baartz and others, where a 50% strike rate or more was regularly achieved, only two (2)Australian strikers have ever taken that strike rate to the international level, Tim Cahill & Damian Mori. And Mori scored a bunch of his goals against some ordinary minnow Pacific Island countries. So really, only Tim Cahill , has a strike rate at International level that equates to the 50% strike rate of the likes of Mesi, Ronaldo, Ibrahimović & Rooney. And that’s why I would regard Cahill as only “good striker ” at international level , ever !
              With our current crop of goal scoring hopefuls , their strike rates are pathetic in comparison to what could ever be regarded as “good”. Tomi Juric 8 goals / 32 games, Robbie Kruse 5 goals / 60 games, Matt Leckie 6 goals / 49 games. So I agree with the author, we are in desperate need of a good striker, but where and when will we find one ?

              • Roar Pro

                December 14th 2017 @ 2:16pm
                George K said | December 14th 2017 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

                The future is looking pretty grim right now,

                Any ideas?

              • Roar Rookie

                December 14th 2017 @ 7:13pm
                Stevo said | December 14th 2017 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

                Good summary Albo. But I don’t have an answer. Well yes I have a comment. An exceptional footballer, a top striker, is born not made. It’s innate in the person, they just understand what to do without thinking. They had the instinct from day one. The problem for Australia is that with so many elite sports taking athletes, our next Cahill may well be starting to play AFL/NRL/Basketball/etc as we type out our comments.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 9:21pm
                Nemesis said | December 14th 2017 @ 9:21pm | ! Report

                @Albo

                Kruse & Leckie aren’t strikers. They’re wide attackers.

                You have Juric with 8 goals from 32 matches?
                You think that’s pathetic.

                I have Viduka with 11 from 43 matches.

                What’s your assessment of Viduka?

                @Stevo

                Tim Cahill is 178 cm tall & weighs 64 kg.

                How many players of this size end up playing top level AFL, Basketball, RL?

              • December 14th 2017 @ 11:01pm
                Nick Symonds said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:01pm | ! Report

                “Tomi Juric 8 goals / 32 games, Robbie Kruse 5 goals / 60 games, Matt Leckie 6 goals / 49 games.”

                – These are not the strikers we’re looking for.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 4:49pm
                Albo said | December 15th 2017 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

                @Nemesis

                “Kruse & Leckie aren’t strikers. They’re wide attackers”

                Agreed. I didn’t call them strikers, but they are a couple we have always had hopes would score some goals as part of their brief. Who else should be scoring all our goals ? As it has been now for years, we have only ever had one striker of high quality ( based on a high percentage strike rate – 50%) at international level, and he is a freak and has been manufactured into a striker’s role (Cahill). My point was that outside of Cahill we have never had a striker or regular goal scorer with a strike rate at International level that you could ever call “good” . A 25 % strike rate ( Viduka & Juric) is surely average at best compared to the dozens of others around the world with international strike rates of 50 % plus, after 30 plus matches. And for attackers with a 9 to10 % strike rate after 50 or 60 matches (Kruse & Leckie) , you must wonder why they have been persisted with for so long ? Maybe we don’t have anyone better ? But surely we should have tried a few others over the past couple of campaigns ?

    • December 14th 2017 @ 8:15am
      shirtpants said | December 14th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      Disagree regarding the two types of league people desire. Ultimately, we need a league to develop our locals, create opportunities for them in bigger leagues, build our own league and strengthen the national team but I think the odd foreigner or “marquee” can definitely be a positive for many reasons. Its about selecting the right foreigner, who not only strengthens the league, but attracts more people to the games/viewers and media coverage..

      • Roar Pro

        December 14th 2017 @ 8:27am
        George K said | December 14th 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

        Yeah,

        Australian Football shouldn’t necessarily be one or the other but rather a centrist approach. Having said that what Marque would honestly want to play in Australia?

        Whilst it’s all well and good to say we should have both how do you go about ensuring this? The process needs to start somewhere and that is the million dollar question.

        • December 14th 2017 @ 10:23pm
          Gavin said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:23pm | ! Report

          Well we have had a few marquees play already; Yorke, ADP, Villa come to mind. But with the strength of the league, and it still being in relatively new stages of development, we aren’t going to attract any top footballer who isn’t on the wrong side of early 30’s. Sydney FC and Melbourne City (particularly the latter with their connections around the globe) are probably the two with the supporter base and location that a marquee would have most impact. As for getting someone who improves the league standard, well that’s the same as any signing really. You hope to get ‘x’ results out of them but they don’t always deliver.

    • December 14th 2017 @ 9:04am
      Square Nostrils said | December 14th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

      For the sake of simplicity, regarding correct monikers, Australia has never had a prolific goalscorer at International level., Amereican Samoa and the like aside. Why, well if changes are to be made to rectify this, then Australia needs to find out just where its gone wrong in the past.
      Regarding a Centrist approach, nobody can ever argue that developing locals to a high level doesn’t have multiple benefits, but in Australia nobody can also deny that the football market historically has been one of following overseas football. Therefore IMO at this stage of the A-Leagues development a ” Name marquee” is imperative and given the hierachial system of World football, may always be necesssary .
      Some call it a Sugar hit and as a 2 season wonder it is, thats why a production line of “Name” or Names are needed year in year out..
      Where does it come from a good question and with the impasse we have currently with FIFA due again in January there will be little direction until that’s sorted.
      However once the dust settles if the A-League becomes independent, then maybe a bunch of rich owners can as well as owning a club, have a stake in the league. Persanally I dont like reliance on TV money as the main source of revenue because it comes with their “Pound of flesh, that being scheduling matches at ridiculous times to provide content.
      I can guarantee one thing though that unless big moolah is found from somewhere to finance marquees, keep improving the standard of local player ( producing goalscorers in there somewhere please)and expand the competition, that the A-League is going nowhere.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 14th 2017 @ 9:53am
      Lamby said | December 14th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      Australia has no Soccer Nets.

      It is a grass roots thing. There are not enough goals, but more importantly there are no nets on the goals. Kids want to shoot goals – but if you have to chase the ball down the road after every time you score a goal you just don’t bother doing it. You won’t learn to curl the ball in, you won’t learn to turn and shoot.

      • Roar Pro

        December 14th 2017 @ 10:16am
        George K said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        Only really noticed this now,

        Even at half-time in the a-league we get tiny goals (I’m not expecting huge nets but even so). I definitely agree but it’s easy to say fix it at grassroots without actually proposing any suggestions on how this would work.

      • December 14th 2017 @ 11:55am
        Fadida said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

        Read Lionheart’s comment below. Plenty of nations barely have a ball, let alone goals or nets. It didn’t stop them producing goalscorers

        • December 14th 2017 @ 11:52pm
          Nick Symonds said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:52pm | ! Report

          “if you have to chase the ball down the road after every time you score a goal you just don’t bother doing it.”

          Couldn’t agree more. Better yet, set up an oversize net with tape to mark out where the goal frame would be. I’ve seen someone with a set up like that in their yard not far from where I live. Every club should have one.

      • December 15th 2017 @ 4:52pm
        Albo said | December 15th 2017 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

        I reckon you might have something there, Lamby !

    • December 14th 2017 @ 10:35am
      Lionheart said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

      If Senegal can produce forwards of the quality of Mane, and Egypt the quality of Salah, so can we. Get to it.

    • December 14th 2017 @ 10:40am
      bobbym said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

      I think we should appoint forward coaches in every team – a striker who can work with the players- other codes have defensive and offensive specialist coaches on their staff. Teach how to work in the box – use your body – positioning- vision- when and how to move- shooting etc I would love to see a Viduka or Batistuta come into the ROOs squad to spend time with the forwards during camp

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