Depth: Time for the fringe Socceroos

Ben of Phnom Penh Roar Guru

By Ben of Phnom Penh, Ben of Phnom Penh is a Roar Guru


53 Have your say

    The Germans delighted and wowed an international audience after showing not only their incredible depth but also their brazen willingness to test fringe Mannschaft players in a high-profile tournament.

    Given our own logistical issues with getting our best players together for matches, is it time to consider a fringe Socceroos team?

    The logistical constraints facing the Socceroos precludes full usage of the international calendar for our national side. Travel time, costs and risk of player fatigue are all considerations that make some dates less desirable in what can often be a hectic international calendar.

    As a result in 2016 the Socceroos didn’t fire a shot in anger until May despite there being two match days available in March of the same year. In 2017 we may have four extra match days in October and November to fill if we qualify directly for Russia.

    Do these extra match days provide us with an option of bringing together fringe Socceroos for friendlies? Can we see some of the A-League’s best alongside the likes of Mustafa Amini, Craig Goodwin and James Jeggo get some decent game time in the green and gold? Are we able to use vacant match days to deepen our squad?

    The constraints are twofold.

    The first is the disruption this would cause to the A-League. Such a fringe Socceroos squad would draw deeply upon the domestic scene, resulting in turbulence within playing squads. The FFA would need to either accommodate affected clubs or allow for international breaks – concessions that they have thus far proved reluctant to pursue.

    The second is the devaluation of the Socceroos brand. This is an aspect where the playing of what are perceived to be lower quality squads reduces the market value of the team. This is real risk if games are to be played in major urban centres before people who have grown accustomed to seeing full-strength sides. The reaction to the German B team, though, suggests this risk may be mitigated if handled correctly.

    (Image: AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    So how would such a concept work?

    The key is found in the old adage, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’.

    A fringe Socceroos squad, seeking to create depth through better understanding of systems for fringe Socceroos and the testing of emerging talent, needs to play in front of fans who rarely get to see the full-strength Socceroos in the flesh – fans who will deeply appreciate what they get to see and who will arrive in both numbers and voice.

    This is a step towards the vaunted equity we vociferously demand yet too often fail to pursue once the Socceroos reach our respective neck of the woods.

    For some parts of Australia the full-strength Socceroos are highly unlikely to ever appear. Be it Cairns, Darwin, Hobart or Townsville, locations with significant football fanbases are missing out yet could provide financially profitable and technically sound locations for a fringe Socceroos side to feature.

    Some of our near neighbours such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia may also be willing to host such a side. All of these options make a fringe Socceroos side a potentially lucrative option for a football association which regularly bemoans its financial constraints.

    They couldn’t play often, but perhaps once or twice a year it would be good to see our depth tested against our near neighbours in venues that crave such representative football.

    As the Germans have shown, it can be done and done well.

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    The Crowd Says (53)

    • July 5th 2017 @ 3:24am
      Fadida said | July 5th 2017 @ 3:24am | ! Report

      The last time I remember a “fringe” side chosen was for a game in Canberra. I cannot recall a worse performance from the NT, and to honest cannot recall who half of the team were. It was ostensibly a “best of A-League”.

      Did it devalue the “socceroos brand”? Absolutely.

      The solution? Send all “fringe games” to Brisbane, hopefully it might stop them feeling left out and unloved 🙂

      • July 5th 2017 @ 10:04am
        Betty B said | July 5th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        Population QLD Dec 2016 5.0 mil
        Population of Tas Dec 2016 519K

      • July 6th 2017 @ 10:55pm
        Mark said | July 6th 2017 @ 10:55pm | ! Report

        I was at that game. It was an Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait. Pim picked an all local side for the match, which put on an absolute stinker of a performance and lost. There was not a single redeeming feature about the match, it was an embarrassment on every level. Terrible performance. Losing to such low ranked opposition. And to top it off, we had players running out with numbers in three figures on their backs.

    • July 5th 2017 @ 4:19am
      Fadida said | July 5th 2017 @ 4:19am | ! Report

      Kuwait, 2009

      Fabian Barbieri
      Matt Simon
      Matt Thompson
      Tommy Pondljak
      Daniel Mullen

      Yep, devalues the shirt

      • Roar Guru

        July 5th 2017 @ 9:14am
        Ben of Phnom Penh said | July 5th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        2009 wasn’t a great experience, though the 2013 East Asia Cup side wasn’t too shabby and had a decent hit-out. Quite a few names there that we now have penned in as regulars for the Socceroos.

        • July 5th 2017 @ 10:53am
          j,binnie said | July 5th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          Ben – If we are going to hit the history books why not visit 1988 when the Socceroos played 23 matches in one year beating teams like Dinamo Zagreb, Israel,Saudi Arabia,Argentina, Yugoslavia,Nigeria, and losing narrowly to Brazil and USSR.
          95% of the players chosen to play in those games came out of the then local NSL.!!!!!! Cheers jb.

          • July 5th 2017 @ 11:02am
            Nemesis said | July 5th 2017 @ 11:02am | ! Report

            My mistake, jb. I should never question your knowledge on AUS football history. The website summary page neglected to show multiple matches against opponents.

            23 matches is extraordinary.

            • July 6th 2017 @ 1:37pm
              j,binnie said | July 6th 2017 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

              Nemesis – Just for the record —
              In 1988 the Socceroos played 22 matches.
              In 1985 they played 19 games.
              In 1984 they played 21 games
              In those 3 years some of the opponents they played were out of the who’s who of football.
              In1984 they played teams like Man Utd, Notts Forest, Glasgow Rangers, Juventus, Man.City, PSV,,Aston Villa, Arsenal, Spurs and Udinese.
              In 1985 they played Spurs,Vasco da Gama,Red Star Belgrade, and Scotland (in the World Cup)
              In 1988 they played
              Gotenburg, DynamoZagreb,Brazil,Saudi Arabia, Argentina,Yugoslavia,Nigeria,USSR,

              Remembering the years mentioned many of these teams were at their peaks for differing reasons,World Cup games or European Cup games being among the incentives at the time. Cheers jb.

      • July 5th 2017 @ 9:19am
        punter said | July 5th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

        Some quality players there!!!! Up there with Max Viera.

    • July 5th 2017 @ 7:24am
      j,binnie said | July 5th 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Fadida – If the recent Confederation Cup performances have taught us anything it is that the difference between our players should not be measured by where they play.
      After watching all 3 matches I found myself comparing how our players “attacked” the game at hand and found to my surprise that in the final game against Chile our team appeared to adopt an all- action ,go forward at all time approach, and in my opinion gave us a performance we have all been crying out for in recent years.
      Have you by any chance asked yourself what caused this apparent complete change in tactical strategy and how it was achieved.
      I found myself (by half time) asking myself that question ,so that I began to watch the team performance through another “pair of eyes”, if that is possible
      What did I see????. Two players emerged and it wasn’t our recognised super stars from overseas,Mooy and Rogic,who weren’t even selected,it was the clubless James Troisi,and the never say die Cahill who were actually leading the charge, and surprise, surprise ,both of them were playing HAL last season.!!!!!.
      Now under the cajoling of Cahill (who was everywhere) and the attacking (let’s have a go) running of Troisi we saw a team of very ,very good footballers completely knocked out of their normal game plan,a plan that actually took them to the final of the competition) where again their game was again stifled by a strongly defensive ,highly organised team of professionals from Ger,many.
      Did the Socceroo performance against Chile tell us anything about how our present crop of national team players approach their tasks? To my eyes we witnessed a throwback to the days when the Australian team,supremely fit and willing ,could actually take on the might of world football and cover themselves in glory. Arok firstly,and then Hiddink showed us what could be achieved if your players were fit enough to “adopt” a national trait, the much vaunted “let’s have a go syndrome”and through sheer perseverance, allied to running power, mix their football with the best in the world,not by trying to copy the best,but by upsetting their “best laid schemes’.
      So there is hope,and oddly, could that “drive” be coming from HAL sources. Cheers jb.

      • July 5th 2017 @ 1:01pm
        Melange said | July 5th 2017 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

        jb – you’re getting in to my head – or am I getting in to yours?

        “I found myself comparing how our players “attacked” the game at hand and found to my surprise that in the final game against Chile our team appeared to adopt an all- action ,go forward at all time approach … Have you by any chance asked yourself what caused this apparent complete change in tactical strategy and how it was achieved”

        I had the exact same questions watching that game.

        Interestingly, according to Gombau (from the SBS site) nothing changed for the third game –
        “Sometimes it’s about belief … and it was also a learning experience for the team from the first game to the third. Players have to believe they can do things and they grew into the tournament game by game. But we didn’t change anything in terms of movement, mentality and tactics. The players had the same instructions for every game.”

        Could it have as much to do with a number of new players, and an elderly statesman who some only consider an impact player, having something to prove? Are players, especially Mooy, more physically and mentally fatigued after such a long season?

        Whatever the reason, I’m looking forward to their performance against Chile being the line in the sand and the moment that propels the boys to that level of performance from now on.

        • July 5th 2017 @ 3:52pm
          j,binnie said | July 5th 2017 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

          Melange – Personally I don’t care if it is JC himself passing comment I am a great believer in what I see with my own eyes and for someone of Gombau’s standing to say “nothing changed for the third game”,my eyes told me that both Mooy,and Rogic were absent from the line up and Tim Cahill started the game instead of coming on as a late sub. and. with Milligan playing in a deeper role, If that is “nothing changed” then so be it. jb

          • July 5th 2017 @ 4:32pm
            Newie said | July 5th 2017 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

            Agree. I was thinking during the early games that the Socceroos don’t have enough fiery/fighty/champion types at present. They’re all very nice, quiet lads. Rogic and Mooy being the ultimate examples of this. Now compare that with Cahill, with Bresciano, with Kewell. Much bigger “characters”, if you want to call them that. Even Lucas Neill had a large ego. Is that ‘mongrel’ what we’re missing?

            • July 5th 2017 @ 4:49pm
              Nemesis said | July 5th 2017 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

              Very good observation. It’s probably because the players in the current team feel they have not yet earned the respect of their peers. They aren’t playing for the big clubs so they have an inferiority complex.

              The squad lacks the FIGJAM-personality.

              Having said that, I think that performance against Chile might be the turning point. The moment when each of lads finally realises …. FIGJAM!

              • July 6th 2017 @ 9:11am
                mattq said | July 6th 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

                I forgot that user name you had!

    • July 5th 2017 @ 8:08am
      Ruudolfson said | July 5th 2017 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      Are you trying to compare Germany with Australia?

      • July 5th 2017 @ 8:47am
        j,binnie said | July 5th 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        Ruudolfson = No nominee on your comment so don’t know if it was me your comment was aimed at but if it was I suggest you read the comment again.
        Any supposed comparison of mine between Australia and Germany is a pure figment of your imagination.
        For a start ,in this series ,especially the games mentioned, both teams played completely different styles of football.
        The Germans ,recognising they were playing a Chile team made up of dyed in the wool professionals,played their final match in a thoroughly predictable manner (bearing in mind the much lauded traits of Germany,discipline and organisation) allowing Chile heaps of possession but all the time challenging that that possession be turned into goals.Was it???? The score suggests not.
        When Australia met Chile there was a completely different mindset,,the Aussies approached the game ,not like Germany ,but ,ably led by the non stop Cahill and Triosi,set about, not stopping Chile from playing a possession based game.but simply by challenging every Chile player for the ball,all over the field and in doing so forced the Chileans to alter their normal game plan.The score in that game again suggests the Aussie ploy was successful.
        To get back to your question.
        Was I suggesting Australia would beat Germany????Again ,somewhere in your imagination Cheers jb.

        • July 5th 2017 @ 9:39am
          Lionheart said | July 5th 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

          I think he was asking the author of the article jb, rather than you. The article’s premise is Germany did it, so we should too. But I enjoyed your two comments, our game has been quite dour this WC qualifying campaign I think, maybe adapting to a new system but it sure came to life v Chile. Let’s hope we get more of that style.

          • July 5th 2017 @ 10:40am
            j,binnie said | July 5th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

            Lionheart- Yes my friend the game plan certainly came to life,literally,in that Chile game. Gone was that mind numbing ,pass the ball sideways and backwards, in an attempt to play a style of football that more and more is becoming dated and is almost totally dependent on each and every player having the ability to find a team-mate with a pass,be it short or long ,but preferably short.
            Recent matches have seen opponents back off the Socceroos and bide their time until the inevitable mistake in passing is made and then unleash a usually devastating counter.
            In the Chile game that regular occurrence all but disappeared as all over the field the Aussies pressured their immediate opponents into making those same mistakes and didn’t it hearten Aussie fans to see world class players like Sanchez and Vidal ,reduced to almost spectator status due to lack of quality service.
            Tim Cahill’s presence and application was instrumental in getting this Socceroo team to play a game to which they are suited,(remember Tim played for Hiddink) and aided and abetted by Triosi,they constantly aggravated defenders into hurried clearances which our extremely mobile midfielders lapped up,winning duel after duel,simply due to pace and application.
            Will we see continued improvement????? Just remember this was a top ten team we were playing against and it is going to be interesting to see what the next game brings,both in personnel chosen and style of play used. Cheers jb.

        • July 5th 2017 @ 5:49pm
          Ruudolfson said | July 5th 2017 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

          Sorry, sir, i respect your views but there is a huge gulf in class between german and australian youth players in terms of overall depth.

          • Roar Pro

            July 6th 2017 @ 3:09pm
            David McDaniel said | July 6th 2017 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

            I dont see the problem in comparing 2 countries to be honest, comparing them does not mean they are equal.

    • July 5th 2017 @ 9:12am
      Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | July 5th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      Ben – good question and I agree with the premise; we should have a “B” team of sorts, to play B team fixtures—not so much in Australia, but a touring B team through Asia—comprised mainly of 20 yr olds. It was done a lot in the days of Soccer Australia, when Eddie Thompson had the national job and it proved to be very useful for bring on the fringe players. This would be a good idea again, to introduce another touring B team to give them the feel of what a WC qualification campaign is all about.

      • July 5th 2017 @ 9:53am
        Lionheart said | July 5th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        Don’t we do that with our age group teams? The U23s, U20s, U17s all play regularly, and am sure I just read about an U15 competition coming up. OK, they don’t tour as you suggest but they play and train regularly, much to the chagrin of their A League clubs. Can we afford another NT?

        • July 5th 2017 @ 10:04am
          Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | July 5th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

          Good question—I can’t answer that, getting enough money together, to support touring teams, is always a problem. It just seems to me that, touring teams, learn and develop faster on the road, then those playing at home.

          • July 5th 2017 @ 10:28am
            Betty B said | July 5th 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

            I agree with you there Caltex but I did read elsewhere that Adelaide United are not very happy about releasing players for a training camp to the squad Nemesis names below.

            • July 5th 2017 @ 11:16am
              Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | July 5th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

              Thanks Betty

        • July 5th 2017 @ 10:34am
          Chopper said | July 5th 2017 @ 10:34am | ! Report

          The game is struggling for money to expand the A League we don’t need another National Team draining resources. What we need is a proactive leadership from the boys at the top and we need to strip the gilded lily for the establishment.

        • Roar Guru

          July 5th 2017 @ 2:48pm
          Ben of Phnom Penh said | July 5th 2017 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

          A fringe Socceroo side would only come together for one or two international match days and would be looking at events that are financially viable. At the end of the day they should be profitable ventures if they were to proceed.

    • July 5th 2017 @ 10:06am
      Nemesis said | July 5th 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

      Josep Gombau has annouced the 26 players who will represent AUS u23 in the qualifiers to decide who will take part in the AFC u23 Championship. This is the first step on the road to Tokyo 2020.

      I rate this squad as being of a higher technical quality than the u23 squads for London2012 and Rio2016.

      Paul IZZO Goalkeeper
      Daniel NIZIC Goalkeeper
      Thomas GLOVER Goalkeeper
      Benjamin WARLAND Defender
      Ruon TONGYIK Defender
      Thomas DENG Defender
      Stefan NIGRO Defender
      Nicholas COWBURN Defender
      Lachlan JACKSON Defender
      Scott GALLOWAY Defender
      Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS Defender
      George BLACKWOOD Midfielder
      Riley McGREE Midfielder
      Joe CALETTI Midfielder
      Liam ROSE Midfielder
      Stefan MAUK Midfielder
      Devante CLUT Midfielder
      Brandon WILSON Midfielder
      Jordan O’DOHERTY Forward
      Trent BUHAGIAR Forward
      Milislav POPOVIC Forward
      Awer MABIL Forward
      Daniel ARZANI Forward
      Bruce KAMAU Forward
      Lachlan SCOTT Forward
      Jaushua SOTIRIO Forward

      • July 5th 2017 @ 10:33am
        punter said | July 5th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

        Thanks Nemesis for this.

        Ben, is this the fringe Socceroos you may be talking about, I know it doesn’t include any fringe players that are over 23, but…..