It doesn’t come around often, playing Brazil, especially in Brazil, and then France in Paris in October. With the first match nearing on Sunday morning comes the usual rancour of Australia’s approach to the game. Coach Holger Osieck has selected the strongest possible team and for some reason this is a problem because the team is “old” – that we must shuffle them out and experiment with younger players.
We really must have extremely short memories. This talk of experimenting and bringing in the youth is not only tiresome, it’s ignorant. Kruse, Oar, Rogic – what do you call these players? They are young, have been given many chances, and are now integrated into the national team. Then there was the massive experiment during July at the East Asian Cup finals. The whole squad was emerging players. Guess what? Mitchell Duke emerged. He’s going to Brazil. Elsewhere, especially defence, they failed. If they are leaking so many goals against other experimental teams, imagine the outcome against Brazil and at the World Cup. You don’t sack players just because they are old. You sack them when they’re out of form. We already saw the consequences of using less experienced players with the WCQ at home against Oman.
Facts are our national team is settled. They did the job in those crucial last 3 World Cup qualifiers to get Australia to Brazil, and we must ensure they are at their best for the World Cup. These games against Brazil and France will be the first we’ve played against a serious opposition and we need to find the true status of our team right now. The grinding World Cup qualifiers and farcelies in between don’t tell us enough. Brazil won’t joke around – having chosen a full strength squad themselves – so therefore we shouldn’t. Maybe France you could contemplate a few second half changes, not so much Brazil in Brazil in a potential World Cup prelude. We should sieze the moment to be serious.
Just imagine the horror and outcry had Osieck experimented in the qualifiers and Australia failed to reach Brazil. No doubt all those advocating such experimentation would be sulking now. Let me tell you something: “the future” is unwritten. You can experiment all you like now, it won’t guarantee success in 4 or 5 years time. National teams are representative by nature. Pick your best, play your best, hone your best. Other than ensuring the back-up players can adequately fill a role, then nothing more is required of the national coach. At senior level, it’s about success. The development and experimentation goes on much earlier, or in less important games. We don’t jeopardise our present success simply for the sake that a few more players than we’d prefer have a “3” as a prefix to their age.
Mark BRESCIANO Al Gharafa, QATAR
Robert CORNTHWAITE Chunnam Dragons, KOREA REPUBLIC
Mitchell DUKE Central Coast Mariners FC, AUSTRALIA
James HOLLAND FK Austria Vienna, AUSTRIA
Brett HOLMAN Al Nasr Sports Club, UAE
Mile JEDINAK Crystal Palace FC, ENGLAND
Josh KENNEDY Nagoya Grampus, JAPAN
Robbie KRUSE TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen, GERMANY
Mitchell LANGERAK (gk) B.V. Borussia 09 Dortmund, GERMANY
Ryan McGOWAN Shandong Luneng Taishan FC, CHINA PR
Matthew McKAY Brisbane Roar FC, AUSTRALIA
Mark MILLIGAN Melbourne Victory FC, AUSTRALIA
Lucas NEILL Omiya Ardija, JAPAN
Tommy OAR FC Utrecht, NETHERLANDS
Sasa OGNENOVSKI Umm Salal SC, QATAR
Tom ROGIC Celtic FC, SCOTLAND
Mat RYAN (gk) Club Brugge KV, BELGIUM
Mark SCHWARZER (gk) Chelsea FC, ENGLAND
Archie THOMPSON Melbourne Victory FC, AUSTRALIA
Rhys WILLIAMS Middlesbrough FC, ENGLAND
Tim CAHILL New York Red Bulls, USA
Luke WILKSHIRE FK Dinamo Moscow, RUSSIA