Socceroos coach Graham Arnold speaks ahead of Australia’s knockout clash with Uzbekistan in the Asian Cup round of 16.
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The Asian Cup is almost upon us, and with the group stages starting this weekend, I’ve chosen who I think should lead Australia’s title defence.
I’ve picked my Socceroos team from the current squad. I haven’t risked Matt Ryan, Mark Milligan, Andrew Nabbout or Chris Ikonomidis, just to name a few of the players who would probably be in the Socceroos best line-up. However, I have picked a team that is capable of winning all three matches in the group stage of the tournament, as the Socceroos have a fairly straightforward run.
I’ve picked a team with some quality in it – Milos Degenek would be captain, Socceroos regular Josh Risdon plays at right back and Jackson Irvine has plenty of ability for inclusion.
Aziz Behich, Trent Sainsbury and Rhyan Grant should get the opportunity to play the midfield, while Massimo Luongo could play an advance role in order to score more regularly.
Jamie Maclaren has a lot to prove at international level, and the group stage of the tournament is a good chance for him to get more confident against with all opposition that the Socceroos are expected to beat.
I don’t see the point of risking Danny Vukovic or Matt Ryan in the group stage, as they may get injured. I also think Langerak is more than capable of performing to an acceptable standard in the group stage of the tournament for the Socceroos.
Left back: Alex Gersbach
He did a good job playing as a substitute against Oman. If Gersbach is selected at left back, it will give Aziz Behich the chance to play at left midfield.
Left-sided centre back: Matthew Jurman
Jurman has the capability to cement a spot in the centre of the Socceroos defence if given the chance to do so.
Right-sided centre back: Milos Degenek (captain)
He was the best player for the Socceroos against Oman. I believe that Degenek has leadership qualities – he leads by example.
Right back: Josh Risdon (vice-captain)
Risdon has been extremely reliable for the Socceroos. I would like to see Rhyan Grant push up to the right of midfield, as he showed he has the ability to make marauding runs up the field against Oman.
Left midfield: Aziz Behich
Behich deserves the opportunity to show what he can do in the midfield. He has the ability to make forward runs, which he displayed against Oman.
Left-sided centre midfield: Trent Sainsbury
Sainsbury should play as a midfielder to add another tactical option for the Socceroos. He showed against Oman how good a passer of the ball he is, and this would be more of an asset to the team
Right-sided centre midfield: Jackson Irvine
There’s no doubting the ability Irvine has in the final third, but he can work on other facets of his game by playing in the centre of midfield.
Right midfield: Rhyan Grant
Grant can make a big impact in midfield on the right side as the attacking side of his game is so great when playing at right back.
Attacking midfield: Massimo Luongo
He needs to get the ball more often in the final third as he has a lethal shot.
Why take Maclaren in the squad if you aren’t going to play him in these sorts of games and see what he has to offer as a striker?
First substitute: Martin Boyle
Boyle has shown in his short time with the national team that he has the ability to score goals. It’s just a case of finding out whether he is better playing a role in the starting line-up or as an impact player off the bench.
Second substitute: Robbie Kruse
Kruse deserves the opportunity to play as an impact player and see what he can do playing that role.
Third substitute: Awar Mabil
Everyone knows that Mabil is a prodigious talent, but he’ll have the most influence on the game by playing for a small period of time as he has played that role in the past effectively.