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Distance makes the heart grow fonder for Ognenovski

Roar Guru
4th November, 2010
13

It’s starting to feel like no matter where you look at the moment, a debate about Sasa Ognenovski’s credentials for a place in the Socceroos set-up is fiercely raging.

From the democratic realms of twitter to Jesse Fink’s determined Half Time Orange blog, it’s all about the big “Og”.

In fact almost every football conversation I’ve had with other Australian football journalists over the last few weeks has ended up in a discussion about the chances of the former Adelaide United defender getting a national team call up.

On this issue, everyone seems to have an opinion.

Well, we now know a national team call up finally looks set to happen for Ognenovski.

I first heard rumblings that the 31-year-old had been sounded out back in September so as always, it’s nice to see a player’s hard work be rewarded.

Ognenovski may have moved to Korea for the money but his commitment and professionalism at Seongnam has impressed both his club and even those erratic administrators at AFC house in Kuala Lumpur, leading to his nomination for the ludicrously set up AFC Asian Player of the Year award.

Yet when it comes to Ognenovski’s Socceroos credentials, this feels like a discussion we’ve already had before.

How many times has a potential Socceroo, who plays in a league we see very little of in Australia, had the hopes of a nation put on his shoulders?

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There was the man who was once Australia’s great big hope to replace Mark Viduka, Bruce Djite, or the heir apparent to Harry Kewell, James Troisi and don’t get me started about Richard Porta!

It seems all a player needs to do to get a campaign going for his Socceroos selection is move abroad to the most obscure league possible and wait for the hype to build.

Yet this approach is fraught with danger. You don’t hear quite the same hype about Djite now he’s back in the Australian public’s eye week in week out, now do you?

That’s the issue with this Ognenovski discussion.

How many people can put their hand up and say they’ve seen him play this season in person? 10,000 or so punters caught a glimpse of him Etihad Stadium against Melbourne Victory earlier this year but that’s pretty slim pickings.

I saw Ognenovski play twice in Korea back in March, where I was impressed by his leadership on the pitch but concerned by his tendency to be caught out by pace.

And yet even that isn’t enough for me to go off, certainly not to start a campaign for his inclusion (I’m not sure it’s the media’s job to champion individual players anyway).

In the meantime, it’s wonderful enough to have another Australian representing the country so well in East Asia.

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