As the Socceroos begin life post the Ange Postecoglou and Bert van Marwijk years, expectations are varied.
Two draws and a loss does not seem like a fair reflection of the overall performance of our Socceroos at the recent Confederations Cup.
Any Australian football fan would know that there are a lot of positives to take out of the tournament.
New defensive structure
Coming into Russia, the hype in the media was about Ange Postecoglou’s decision to convert to a three-man defence instead of the traditional back four Australia is used to seeing over the years. The likes of Trent Sainsbury, Milos Degenek and Bailey Wright were able to put in very solid performances despite not being able to keep a clean sheet.
It’s impressive to see that without regular first team football what a defence is able to achieve in terms of learning and improving through unity each match day, but it’s not as impressive as Ange’s courage to change Australia’s style of play only a year out from the World Cup.
More than just Timmy
Considered Australia’s greatest ever footballer, Tim Cahill earned his much deserved 100th cap for the Socceroos in what has been a stellar career for the 37-year-old. He was presented with the captain’s armband against Chile, but as a nation we don’t particularly need to rest our hopes on his shoulders.
Many youngsters up forward have come up through the ranks, providing hope for the green and gold army.
Jamie Maclaren (equal top goal scorer in this season’s A-League), Tomi Juric (plying his trade in Europe) and Jackson Irvine (ten goals in this season’s English Championship) who are 23, 25 and 24 respectively, have given Ange many options to choose from which can only be a positive sign.
We can match it against the best
Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez, Claudio Bravo and Gary Medel. These are only a handful of world-class players from the team that Australia were able to match up with. 2015 and 2016 Copa America winners Chile are ranked #4 in the world and play a style of football that only suits the South American way.
The media before the clash were calling on Australia to produce a miracle in order to qualify for the next stage, similar to what the Aussies achieved at the 2001 Confederations Cup, beating then-world champions France 1-0.
With Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic rested, the first half performance was described by expert pundit Craig Foster as “one of the best performances from Australia in a long long time”. An unfortunate mistake at the back cost the Socceroos a much deserved victory, but with the high pressing game coming into full effect and many chances being created, this team looks set to be a surprise package for next year’s World Cup.
We’ve now got high expectations
Before our qualification to the 2006 World Cup, Australia remarkably hadn’t been able to achieve entry into the most prestigious sporting event for 32 long years.
Since 2006, the game in this country has grown dramatically which has resulted in bigger expectations on the nation.
After Australia’s 3-2 loss to Germany’s so called ‘C-team’, some came out and branded the performance as disgraceful and pathetic. In our second match against African champions Cameroon, our performance come under less scrutiny but Ange was still feeling the same pressure. The 1-1 result against Chile put smiles on every Australian’s face knowing they are able to provide quality in crucial moments.
Postecoglou after the Chile match described the result as “hugely disappointing”, which is how we should reflect every match against every big opponent.
For Australia at Russia in 2018, it’s not about being there to make up the numbers, because it’s become more than that now for this country. It’s about going in and having a mindset within the camp believing they can win the World Cup. This could prove to be the biggest positive out of Australia’s campaign.