At ANZ Stadium tonight, Australia will need all the support they can get if they are to finish Syria off and progress through to the last stage of qualification.
Let’s be honest though, it really shouldn’t of come down to this, where we find ourselves having to play four extra matches to qualify for Russia. It just wasn’t in the script. Australia are champions of Asia and were expected by the majority to walk into next year’s biggest sporting event automatically with no difficulties.
But yet, we find ourselves in this unwanted situation but now must put the past behind us and move forward to this crucial second leg against the Syrians.
Losing is not an option by the end of the night. It can’t be. Over the many years of growing this game in this country from developing the old NSL, to establishing the A-League and then qualifying for our first World Cup in 32 years and repeating that success with another two World Cup campaigns has taken so much hard work and commitment from too many to name.
Not qualifying for Russia would result in us taking two steps backwards and would mean being able to promote the game in this country would be knocked back significantly.
Financially, the FFA will heavily feel the negative effects of not being at the World Cup, as that extra income would be helpful towards expanding not just the A-League, but also our young grassroots set up.
In saying all of this, what can be done tomorrow night to make sure the green and gold progress to the next round?
Firstly, the back three that Ange Postecoglou has tried to implement has simply not worked at all. In order to successfully adopt a three-man defence, you need to have three quality centre-backs who understand how to play with each other. At the moment, Trent Sainsbury is our only central defender who can be seen as top notch. Then again, he isn’t playing regular football, which is a point I will raise later on.
When I watched the Syrians in the first leg, I saw passion and a bit of grit that allowed them to stay in the game and come up with a crucial goal. Australians are known for their ‘never say die’ attitude, but watching the Socceroos is frustrating because I know they have more energy and desire within them to show that on the pitch.
I’m not saying they don’t care or don’t try, but it could be that extra determination and heart that could prove to be the difference.
Ah yes, that classic case of Ange’s players not playing regular football. I wrote about this a month or so ago and got heavily criticised for it, but nothing has proven me wrong. Most people with half a football brain can see it, and it isn’t hard to.
Sainsbury is only one who has not been getting game time for his respective club, as others such as Matthew Jurman, Matthew Spiranovic, Brad Smith, Josh Risdon, Jamie Maclaren, Adam Taggart, Jackson Irvine and others that have not been mentioned but are still able to make the squad.
Nonetheless, me must get behind our Socceroos and finish the job in Sydney. Failure to complete this task, and this country could potentially miss out on future World Cups.