No twist as Osieck sticks with experience
Holger Osieck selected the squad we all knew he would – but one or two inclusions showed that there is the chance for the Socceroos to evolve on the road to Brazil.
Holger Osieck selected the squad we all knew he would - but one or two inclusions showed that there is the chance for the Socceroos to evolve on the road to Brazil.
Criticising Osieck has become something of a pastime of late. Conservative squad selections and insipid performances have raised the ire of Socceroos fans, who feel the shot at a third consecutive World Cup appearance slipping from view.
But while Australia have stumbled along the road to Brazil so far, the Socceroos still have a realistic chance of qualification.
The question is, is this the squad that can cope with Japan, and get the better of Jordan and Iraq?
It better be, because it-s all we-ve got.
Osieck has chosen 26 players that have all the knowledge and skills this generation of Australian footballers can offer, with played from Europe, Asian and a surprisingly strong showing from our domestic competition.
There is an argument that Lucas Neill, the captain without his own boat, is lucky to be included, while Harry Kewell wasn-t considered.
But Osieck obviously puts a lot of faith his captain, and, alongside Sasa Ognensovski, whose time in isolation appears to be at an end, wants to recover some of that old parsimony at the back. The pairs- age, 35 and 34 respectively, however, is something of a concern when faced by Japan vibrant and free-scoring team.
But Kewell shouldn-t really be complaining, considering how little football he-s played in the last few months.
Consider, instead, Shane Lowry, who enjoyed a fine season with Millwall, or Central Coast Mariners defender Trent Sainsbury, whose age probably counted against him (for now).
Rhys Williams, usually an Osieck regular, has paid for his drop in form with Middlesbrough. The versatile defender must consider this a warning sign; he must be back to his best next season if he wants to go to Brazil.
But the selection of seven A-League players is a huge boost to those in the domestic competition, with Brisbane Roar fullback Ivan Franjic probably the most eye-catching choice.
Similarly, the inclusion of Oar and Rogic, in particular, should give some heart to those who fear the Socceroos are too wedded to the same old names.
The main question now is whether the coach has the faith to give one of these rising stars a starting berth and inject some much-needed urgency into his team.
The Socceroos are never short of effort and determination but our footballers have so much more to offer. It-s up to Osieck to prepare, train and inspire his players. His team-s performances, since that heroic showing against Japan last June, have left fans distinctly underwhelmed.
Rising to the challenge in Saitama could give the coach the stepping stone he needs to get the very best out of the Socceroos.
Over three big weeks, the Socceroos have everything on the line, so let-s loosen the leash just a little and give our players the respect their abilities and intelligence deserve. Let-s grab qualification by the throat and claim our place with the world-s best in Brazil.