Australia has been impressed with the determination of a Socceroos team that was pitted in a group with three of the best teams in world football. In all three games the team that everyone had written off put in the effort that every Aussie underdog prides themselves on and you can have nothing but admiration for the way they went about their business. But as the dust settles we will all come to terms, as Ange Postecoglou probably already has, that we lost all three matches and finished bottom of a World Cup group.
Ange said from the outset, that Australia was not going to Brazil to be a number and his goal was to make it out of the group, regardless of whether anyone else believed it was realistic or not, he failed to reach that goal. However this World Cup could be the launching pad that the 2010 World Cup should have been, which is to finally establish the new age of football in Australia.
What the Socceroos need now is a nation behind them with more ambition than just to try our best, something that all of us Aussies know the Socceroos would have done regardless. The focus now shifts to the Asian Cup which we will be hosting in January of next year and it is pleasing to already hear people declaring that the Socceroos can win it.
This could be the start of an exciting period for the Socceroos with a pool of full of youthful enthusiasm and genuine talent. Dare I say it but Ange could be the one to oversee the next serious “golden generation” with players not only tearing it up in Europe but also showing that the A-League is no longer a muck around competition.
The Socceroos played fluid football in Brazil and the comparisons with Dutch “Total Football” were not too far fetched with only the only real difference being that our chances fell to the feet of Bundesliga 2 players rather than a Bundesliga champion player.
What let the Socceroos down most in Brazil was sloppy defending that you could link to all 9 goals the Socceroos conceded. But I think we can almost excuse the teams defence, for now, considering the number of changes to the back 4 over the last year and the fact that the every player that featured in the defence for the Socceroos at this World Cup had never played in a World Cup or even an Asian Cup previously.
If Ange and his right hand man Ante Milicic, who has been attributed with the Western Sydney Wanderers superb defensive structure can sort this aspect of the Socceroos play then they should be favourites to win the Asian Cup despite the presence of Japan, Iran and Korea Republic.
The 23 players that went to Brazil will all be in contention to be a part of Ange’s squad for the Asian Cup with players such as Robbie Kruse, Rhys Williams and Tom Rogic who should also be genuine starting eleven options come kickoff against Kuwait on the 9th of January.
In October the Socceroos will play Uzbekistan and Qatar in Doha and it will be very interesting to see who Ange will retain from the World Cup as well as who he will draft in. You have to feel that the likes of Kruse, Williams and Rogic will be included as well as a few others who were unlucky to miss out on the World Cup squad. Ange will have the luxury of having whatever size squad he pleases so these additions could simply join the 23 he took to Brazil.
As for the two key elder statesman of Bresciano and Cahill. I can see the argument for not having them in 6 months time but I would be stunned if Ange didn’t stick by two of his best players until they retire. Bresciano is the best ball player the Socceroos have had, period and well Tim Cahill’s record speaks for itself. A 2015 Asian Cup victory could be these two Socceroo legends swan song.
The future looks bright, especially considering the future looked trapped under a semi trailer after the two consecutive 6 nil defeats less than a year ago. A positive result at the Asian Cup will need to be backed up by a convincing 2018 World Cup qualification campaign. Once we get to Russia in 4 years time, regardless of the group the goal must be to make the Round of 16.
Words by Dylan Arvela.