It’s the end of the football world as we know it, and I feel fine

Scott Russell Roar Rookie

13 Have your say

    For the first time since 2002 there’s a very real possibility of a World Cup going ahead without the Socceroos being part of it.

    After a wasteful outing against Thailand and Saudi Arabia’s win over Japan the Socceroos have missed out on direct qualification for Russia 2018. Home-and-away playoffs against Syria and then the fifth-placed CONCACAF side now stand in the way of qualifying.

    It won’t be easy. War-ravaged Syria are already the feel-good story of qualifying and remain a banana-skin opponent for Ange Postecoglou’s men. If the Socceroos can overcome the Syrians, a date with the USA, Honduras or Panama looms.

    The narrative out of Socceroos HQ is that we will qualify, but lurking in the shadows is the ugly spectre of missing out, a nightmarish scenario that recalls the 1974 to 2005 wilderness years.

    If the Socceroos do miss out, they will be in good company. All up, 178 nations will fail to qualify for Russia. Most of them will be minnows. No-one expects Tonga or Gibraltar to be at the World Cup.

    You do expect to see Lionel Messi there, though. But after a 1-1 draw with Venezuela in their most recent outing, Argentina’s chances of qualifying are on life support. They sit two spots shy of CONMEBOL automatic qualification, one place ahead of Chile, themselves in serious trouble.

    In North America a tepid campaign has the US sitting precariously in the intercontinental playoff spot after a toothless draw with Honduras last week. Only earlier wins at home against Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago have saved America’s blushes – for now.

    The Netherlands, after not making last year’s Euros, are now in danger of missing out on a World Cup berth. The Dutch sit four points adrift of direct qualification and will need to conjure a miracle if they are to book their place in Russia.

    (Image: AAP Image/Matt Roberts)

    Only Brazil and Germany have qualified for every World Cup they’ve entered – France have failed to qualify fives times, Spain four times, England three times –
    they, together with the French, missed out as recently as 1994 – and the Italians and Argentinians once apiece.

    The Socceroos shouldn’t be assessed in the context of other nation’s failures. Failing to qualify is still a failure. But the point is that it’s bloody hard to qualify for the World Cup, and Australia can’t just turn up every four years and expect to phone it in.

    In the short term not making Russia would be disastrous. The repercussions would be damaging and wide-reaching. Revenue – the FFA received $US8 million for the Socceroos participation in Brazil 2014 – commercial reach, media exposure, player development, A-League attendances and the sport’s credibility would all be hit hard.

    But it need not be a catastrophic blow.

    On the contrary, in the long run – after the pain and embarrassment have subsided – it could turn out to be the much-needed kick up the arse that football in this country needs.

    It would shine a torch on the serious cracks in administration, governance, crowds and expansion (to name a few) that have been papered over. It would bring some uncomfortable truths about the FFA out into the open.

    The much-maligned Stephen Lowy-David Gallop nexus could be on the chopping block. Pressure on the FFA for much-needed governance reform would become overwhelming. The shackles that have bound the game’s development in recent years would be blasted off.

    But most importantly of all, we would never take World Cup qualification for granted ever again.

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    The Crowd Says (13)

    • September 11th 2017 @ 8:34am
      Fadida said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

      Lenny Bruce is not afraid.

      And neither am I. Australian football will keep moving forward regardless, though not with a back 3

      • September 11th 2017 @ 11:59am
        Nick Symonds said | September 11th 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

        “People in Australia are used to the Socceroos playing a 4-4-2 formation, which is all about just getting the ball up the field. The boss is just trying to change something for the better of the game in our country and maybe some people are a little bit scared. We’re all behind the boss and what he’s trying to achieve. We’re going to keep pursuing it and hopefully the reward will be World Cup qualification. All the noise is coming from the outside, inside the camp we are just one big family all pulling in the same direction.” – Milos Degenek

        It looks like they will be sticking with a back 3.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 2:29pm
          j,binnie said | September 11th 2017 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

          Nick – If this lad has been quoted accurately I start to worry and wonder, for parts of his statement show a distinct lack of comprehension of football tactics.
          He cites 4-4-2 as a means of “getting the ball up the field” when in fact tactical formations are designed to be “fluid” depending on whether your team is in possession of the ball,or are trying to win back possession.
          Probably the finest international football team in modern football history (they only lost one game in 5 years that being a World Cup final) the Hungarian team of the early 1950’s adopted a 4-4-2 plan when they were seeking to win back possession but ,having two lightning fast, ball carrying wingers, in Budai and Czibor they could very quickly take that newly won possession into an opponents danger area where 2 of the world’s best strikers ,Puskas and Kocsis were waiting ,thus converting the aforesaid 4-4-2 into an all out attacking 3-3-4 formation.
          That is the thing that appears to be confusing to the modern day fan who has his head filled with these numerical equations.
          Football is a very fluid game and because of this the players have to be very fluid in their movement both on and off the ball if the ‘defensive mode” has to be changed successfully to the “attack code’.
          From his cited words this lad does not appear to appreciate this basic comprehension of modern football tactics. Lets us hope he has been mis-quoted. Cheers jb..

          • September 11th 2017 @ 4:36pm
            pacman said | September 11th 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

            Excellent work jb, as usual.

          • September 11th 2017 @ 5:02pm
            Fadida said | September 11th 2017 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

            Agree JB

          • September 11th 2017 @ 8:42pm
            Party Pooper said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:42pm | ! Report

            Surely a coach has multiple tactical formations in his arsenal to use depending on the opponent of the situation?

            What happens if a player is sent off?

          • September 11th 2017 @ 10:00pm
            Redondo said | September 11th 2017 @ 10:00pm | ! Report

            If Degenek is representative of the level of intelligence/education in the ‘playing group’ then his comments about 4-4-2 explain why Postecoglou can’t change formation during a game.

            I also love how he explains failing to qualify directly:

            “But things happen for a reason. It’s God’s plan and we have to follow that path.”

            Apparently the national team’s performance has nothing to do with Postecoglou’s coaching

    • September 11th 2017 @ 8:41am
      pauli said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Just the piece we needed to see.

      World Cup qualifying failure won’t make me any less enthused about Melbourne Victory.

      And then there’s UAE 2019, where tickets should surely be easy to obtain in a country that is far more open and accessible to the world than Russia.\

      I’d still be devastated if we didn’t qualify though. Memories of picking another country to follow are flashing through the mind as I write this.

    • September 11th 2017 @ 10:54am
      striker said | September 11th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

      Yep gotta agree we will still be here kicking if we qualify or not, too many people love the game here for it to fall over.

    • September 11th 2017 @ 11:17am
      Allen said | September 11th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

      Tend to agree, also on the flip side if we can qualify by winning two tough playoff rounds in good style it will give the game a lot more positive momentum going into Russia than if we had limped over the line against Thailand last week. So either way I think the playoff is a positive.

      Unfortunately the ridiculous expansion of the WC to 48 teams will mean that we do take qualification for granted again as of the next campaign 🙁 .

    • September 11th 2017 @ 4:25pm
      Les Mara said | September 11th 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

      Even if we miss the WC in Ruskia, I will still be enthused about watching Sydney Olympic vs Hakoa. We need to add a 2nd division, in order to join old soccah with new football baby!

    • September 11th 2017 @ 8:39pm
      Party Pooper said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

      Maybe we should be looking at how successful footballing nations develop players rather than Holland.

      Whatever became of that ‘football curriculum’ that was being talked up a few years back?

      Rather than obsess about the idiotic expansion and 2nd divisions, the FFA and various hangers on should be concentrating their efforts on developing the footballing pipeline, like Iceland has done.

      In short it will be a disaster not to go to the World Cup, but it won’t be the end of the world. We will rebuild and become stronger for it because it will shake up the development pipeline and because there will no funds, the end of the 2nd division and expansion pipeline.

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