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Monday, April 23, 2018

Australia wants to be an alternative in the FIFA World Cup

Por Jack Leyva

Australia will be, for the fourth time, a quaint cheerleader in the most important soccer tournament, as well as an interesting alternative to the most powerful nations in this sport. However, their mission is not a simple one, if we judge the poor image they left when they faced Norway and Colombia in friendly matches and lost 1-4 with the first one and tied to zero with the last one.

The Aussies will have in the tournament almost the same team that left Honduras out of the competition for one of the last spots. The Dutch Bert van Marwijk, recently named manager of the Australian team, could summon the rookies Aleksandar Susnjar and Dimitri Petratos, although the majority of the team should be men that were in last years’ FIFA Confederations Cup, in which the socceroos ties with Cameroon and Chile, and then lost against Germany. Miles Jedinak will be for sure part of the selection after his hat trick when facing Honduras in the repechage.

It is valid to clarify that since that crucial moment with the team form Central America, Australia has been living a mini crisis due to the resignation of its former manager, Ange Postecoglou, who left his position because of personal issues and left the Australians without a head coach at less than a year from the FIFA World Cup. The teams’ first steps with Bert van Marwijk’s have been negative so far and have left serious doubts. Even though he maintains the same core of players, his tactics differ somehow of Postecoglou’s game style of retained possession of the ball. The Dutch prefer his teams to be more compact, closing the spaces and using the counterattacks as the offensive weapon.

Nevertheless, as we already mentioned, Australia’s strengths are still the same, basically because their core has not changed much over the last years. As reference on the field, there is still the forward Tim Cahill, historic scorer of the team, who has participated in three consecutive FIFA World Cups as well as a group of players that accumulates more than 40 appearances with the national selection. That is the case of the goalkeepers Mathew Ryan (25 years old and 41 caps with Australia since 2012), Mitchell Langerak (with experience in Germany), Daniel Voković (32 years old, plays with the Koninklijke Racing Club Genk from Belgium) and Brad Jones, who played in England, being bench warmer in the Liverpool until 2015 and who plays regular for the Feyenoord Rotterdam now. Besides, there is Jedinak (Aston Villa F.C), one of the key players in the midfield, Massimo Luongo, Mark Milligan (67 appearances with Australia) and James Troisi, all of them important faces of the socceroos.