The Australian Underdogs

Australia is about to call its roster for the World Cup, and it'll be full of underdogs
by Perry Tsangas   |   Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Oz Football – column on the Australian A-League, Socceroos & the Aussie soccer scene.

You can honestly say that Ange Postecoglou doesn’t shy away from a challenge. He has experienced the coaching merry go around throughout his illustrious managerial career, from achieving 2 championships at NSL powerhouse South Melbourne and taking the club to the World Club Championship in Brasil, while also experiencing the lows of being unemployed and accepting a coaching position to none other than lowly Moreland Zebras in the Victorian State League.

His toughest job awaits at this year’s World Cup finals when he leads Australia to a samba dance.

Australia has qualified for a third successive World Cup. Three appearances in a row at a World Cup has been a terrific result for the game down under, but expectations from the public are limited, as being merely competitive will be classified as success. Since Postecoglou’s appointment supporters have seen the pride and positivity brought back into the green and gold.

FFA brought in Postecoglou who has single handendly changed the way the game is played in the Aleague. Our national team needed rejuvenating and Ange had already set the precedent at Brisbane Roar, as he swiftly cleaned out the dead wood and dominated all before him by winning back to back Aleague championships. 

Having coached Australian junior teams in the past, there is no one better who knows the Australian football landscape than Postecoglou. The football gods have not smiled on Australia after being handed the toughest World Cup group. Group B consists of current World Cup holder Spain, 2010 runner up the Netherlands and the 13th ranked South Americans Chile. It is clearly the toughest job in world football as every opponent is ranked in the top 15 in the world. 

Postecoglou’s task has been made even harder by many key players suffering injuries that have ruled them out of the tournament. Bayer Leverkusen’s Robbie Kruse has been a major blow from an attacking sense, even though he has just started to resume running, he is deemed surplus to requirements for the World Cup. Kruse’s injury opens up an opportunity for newly signed FC Ingolstadt player Matthew Leckie and Fortuna Dusseldorf’s Ben Halloran. With the likes of Tommy Oar added Australia boasts very pacey wingers, which can pose a counter attacking threat to the best of defensives lines.

Scoring goals may not be Australia’s problem, but keeping them out may prove too difficult a task. A tournament ending injury to Middlesborough’s Rhys Williams will once again rule him out from yet another World Cup appearance, as Williams was a late omission from the South Africa campaign in 2010. In another disaster story PEC Zwolle defender Trent Sainsbury collided with a sprinkler head in his debut match for his new club. The knee injury is worse than first thought therefore he may have to wait to make his international debut.

A nervous football public will wait for Wednesday’s 30-man squad announcement with anticipation.  The international retirement of 40-year-old Mark Schwartzer, 30-year-old Brett Holman and the already omitted Lucas Neill, signals the end of a golden era.

What waits?  A squad full of young and enthusiastic players in what may just well be the youngest Australian team ever assembled for a World Cup with a large contingent of locally based players, not seen since the 1974 Socceroos who where the pioneers and the country’s first World Cup appearance. The likes of Troisi, Taggart, Malik, Galekovic, Brillante,Birigitti, Mckay  and Franjic have continued to train in a secret camp organised by Postecoglou, who has also relied on Aleague managers to keep their national team players conditioned.

Ange Postecoglou has kept his cards close to his chest as he fully understands the Australian team psyche and how to get the best out of Australian players. He has taken a leaf from Guus Hiddink’s methodology of keeping every single player on their toes and guaranteed no player a free flight. Not only has Ange followed Hiddink’s selection criteria, but he will also translate his fitness program as soon as the Socceroos start their training campaign at Central Coast Stadium, in preparation for the farewell South Africa match on May 26. One thing is for certain Australia will be one of the fittest teams in Brasil.

What the world will see in Brasil is a young and dynamic Australian team that will take pride in wearing the green and gold. They will no doubt enjoy the ‘underdog’ tag that always brings out the best from Australian sporting teams.

Perry TSANGAS

Nationality:
Australia
College:
Northern Melbourne Institute of Tafe
Club Domestic:
Melbourne Victory FC
Club Foreign:
PAS Giannina
Perry hopes he can contribute to the growth of Australian football and play the best ambassadorial role for the sport. Currently a coach of Victoria in 7-a-side football for players disabilities.
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