During the recent ASEAN Summit, the prime minister of Thailand made an announcement that a group of ten nations would be bidding to host the 2034 World Cup. The FFA need to seize the opportunity to get behind it.
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.