The Sports Thread #1/World Cup 2 A-Days Team Runthrough For 5/27/14: Oooo The Socceroos
Wilshere (Franjic) Spiranovic Good Davidson
Leckie Rogic Oar
When the Soccroos were humiliated 6-0 by Brazil back in September, they immediately were pegged by many as the worst team to participate in the final tournament. That dubious mantle was further vindicated with the group the Socceroos were drawn in, with Chile, Holland, and the world champions Spain eyeing how many tallies they need to score on Australia to strength their goal difference in complicated, difficult Group C.
It didn't help ease pessimistic feelings for fans Down Under when rising forward Robbie Kruse was ruled out for the summer tournament after suffering an ACL tear for his new club Bayer Leverkusen in January. The former Brisbane Roar's star had a slim chance to recover in time from his devastating injury, and manager Ange Postecoglou couldn't take any chances in selecting a player far ready to even be healthy, let alone be at a fraction of his powers.
Group C for Australia could easily be labeled as Group Cruel, but despite a team now featuring only captain Mike Jedinak as a first team regular in a Big 5 UEFA league, Postecoglou will lead a mostly young team believing it can shock the tournament like their eternal rivals New Zealand did in 2010.
Although the Kiwis had a much easier group that featured a declining Italy side, Paraguay, and Slovakia, they were still expected to be the laughingstocks in South Africa. Instead, they almost achieved two of the most improbable results in World Cup history, narrowly missing out on beating the defending world champions and almost advancing out of the group.
That information won't do much to help their adversarial neighbors' situation against the likes of Iniesta, Van Persie, and Vidal, but the Socceroos are always a team that plays with spirit no matter the massive challenges they face. That was in evidence by their draw against Ghana and victory over Serbia in the last World Cup, missing out on advancing to the round of 16 thanks to their 4-0 thrashing in the opener against Germany. And Postecoglou's hightempo, pressing, and passing on the ground style is similar to what was implemented by Roy Herbert's overachieving Kiwi side in South Africa.
However, much has changed from that last Australian team that performed admirably in 2010. Gone are the likes of stalwarts Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton, the underachieving Jason Culina, Lucas Neill, Mark Schwarzer, and Brett Holman, the latter three painfully exposed against Brazil in that friendly last fall. Schwarzer, Neill, and Holman didn't need any more evidence to know their international days were over.
So outside of veteran rightback Luke Wikshire, Postecoglou is placing the hopes of his backline on three young defenders. It will be quite the baptism under fire for centerbacks Matthew Spiranovic (25) and Curtis Good (21), who have garnered a few headlines globally. The same can be said for leftback Jason Davidson, who had a decent campaign with Eredivisie midtable side Hercales and does like to get forward.
They all will sit in front of arguably the strength of this Australian team in Jupiler Pro League goalkeeper of the year Matthew Ryan, as Australia will certainly not miss the long team steadiness that Schwarzer brought for so many years, nor will they miss Liverpool veteran Brad Jones being the number two. Ryan, along with Roman Weidenfeller understudy Mitchell Langerak and possible Leverkusen bound Mark Birighitti give Australia a reputable crop of young goalkeepers.
But the loss of Kruse is a rough one for Postecoglou, putting more focus from their massively difficult Group C opponents on all-time leading scorer and Aussie legend Tim Cahill. Cahill will have to hope that more key youth influences on this team (talented midfielders Tommy Oar, Tom Rogic, and Mathew Leckie) wow scouts with their play in order for him to bury the few chances he will likely get.
It will be quite the achievement if Postecoglou's men, with Cahill, Jedinak, Wilkshire, and the fine Australian winger Mark Bresciano lead a mostly inexperienced side even register a point in Brazil. But they sure will have the synonymous Australian sporting spirit to try and prevent what happened to them last September, instead of it being a precursor of what is to come.
Under the Radar, Important Players:
Matthew Ryan- The Jupiler Pro League's best goalkeepers and one of the premiere young netminders in the world. Winning the league's best keeper award and joining a list that including Thibait Courtois and Simon Mignolet.
Him, Dortmund backup goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak, and possible future Bundesliga goalkeeper Mark Birighitti (received interest from Bayer Leverkusen to be Bernd Leno's backup) ensure a fine future for the Socceroos in the net.
Jason Davidson had a decent season with Hercules as their left back, scoring two goals and three assists in another key year of development for the leftback.