Socceroos warm up during team training. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
It’s a little over a month since Australia’s World Cup disappointment and we’re yet to name our new coach, but the Socceroos are back tomorrow morning in a friendly against Slovenia. But given the aforementioned factors – and the 4.45am AET timeslot – you may find yourself struggling to find the motivation to rise out of your slumber come Thursday morning.
To make matters worse, Socceroos star Tim Cahill withdrew from Han Berger’s under-strength squad yesterday which was already missing drawcards like Harry Kewell, Mark Bresciano and Brett Emerton.
Nevertheless, there are reasons to steer clear of your snooze buttons.
After all, since the Socceroos’ World Cup exit in June the Australian football community has been calling for the promotion of the next generation as we look ahead to Brazil 2014 and the Slovenia will be our first opportunity.
The problem is our direction towards Brazil isn’t defined yet as the FFA haven’t announced our new national team boss, although we’re promised he’ll be in charge by September for our upcoming friendlies against Switzerland and Poland.
The good news is caretaker coach Han Berger has got the ball rolling by selecting a relatively youthful and untested squad for Thursday’s match in Ljubljana against a Slovenian side who were minutes away from qualifying for the Round of 16 at the World Cup.
Admittedly, there are no new faces to the Australia set-up (Shane Lowry is the only uncapped player), but the performances of 18-year-old Tommy Oar and the recalled Nathan Burns will be keenly anticipated.
In selection Berger opted to overlook much-hyped youngsters such as Portugal-based Jason Davidson, new Besiktas signing Ersan Gulum and Newcastle wizz Bradden Inman. The latter, who is being tempted by the Scottish FA, told me last week he hadn’t been contacted at all by Australia about the game.
Perhaps, though, those call-ups would have been premature.
But with Australia’s major deficiency clearly in attack (incredibly, scanning through the squad for Thursday morning’s game, there’s only 10 international goals among the entire team!) plenty of focus will be directed to the Socceroos front third.
Oar, who has already made two brief substitute’s appearances in the Europa League for new club FC Utrecht, dazzled against Indonesia in his international debut earlier this year and showed a bit in a short cameo against the All Whites too. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares against a decent European opponent.
And if Berger follows through with the 4-3-3 formation he has hinted he’ll deploy (wouldn’t that be a rare treat for Aussie fans!), then Oar could have a licence to get forward at will.
Burns’ recent performances on Australian soil with AEK Athens reminded us all of his qualities and he’s an untried talent who may be desperate to grab his international chance. Dario Vidosic is another who’ll be keen to impress after missing out in South Africa.
There’s others who’ve been tried before but haven’t found their feet at international level and the jury is definitely still out on Nikita Rukavytsya’s capability on this stage, while Bruce Djite’s progress will be keenly monitored.
Sure, the players won’t have the future national team coach on the sidelines to motivate them to really impress, but there’s no doubt a good performance will do their Socceroos prospects no harm.
The reality is this is what Thursday morning’s game is all about, as we begin to build towards Brazil 2014.
And, of course, a good performance from a young band of Socceroos could be just what Australia’s post-World Cup morale needs.
The Socceroos will be back in action as they aim to rack up another victory on the road to the FIFA World Cup when they head to Kaohsiung for a clash with Chinese Taipei. The match is scheduled to begin at 10:40pm (AEDT) on Tuesday, October 15.
The campaign for the Socceroos to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup continues as international football returns to Australia on Thursday evening with a match against Nepal. This is The Roar’s complete guide to live streaming the match online, or watching it on TV in Australia. The match is set to be played at […]
The Socceroos will be back in action on Thursday evening as the journey to the 2022 FIFA World Cup continues with a match against Nepal. Kick-off in the fixture is scheduled for 8pm (AEDT) on October 10.