There’s a Bigger Problem

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Australia’s national football teams are under intense speculation. After two consecutive 6-0 defeats to Brazil and France and the under 19’s losing 5-1 to Vietnam just recently, plenty of wide-spread debate and criticism has been aimed at the national team structure.

FFA’s hand was forced into sacking Holger Osieck and could you blame the governing body?

Ninety-nine percent of the public would’ve acted the same.

The team is low on confidence, it is quite simple.

Now Lucas Neill has suggested the youngster’s attitude towards playing for their country is not right. His comments have been met with some criticism from leading pundits.

Everyone’s going to have an opinion on the matter and its deep seeded further than just the playing stocks and the coaching situation. It gives the average punter a perfect reason to have a swipe at the Australian Soccer setup.

On the back of Australia’s highest ever finish in the 2006 world cup most of the Australian squad was peaking in ’06 and could have progressed further, we won’t talk about the penalty against Italy, looking at the squad now or even over 12 months ago, it isn’t hard to compare the standards of players between both time periods.

One by one the 2006 squad dropped away with players retiring. Holger has blooded youngsters – endorsed A-League players into the national setup unlike Pim Verbeek who lambasted the A-League as a training session in the Bundesliga. Osieck picked the best squads, from whom to choose from, for the key matches. Australians expect the best, which is a good thing however we as a nation overate ourselves; think we are better than what we are. We can’t admit we have limited ability against the top 10 teams. We love the Aussie spirit to fight however it’s not happening right now.

Problems in Australian soccer are far more than looking at the squad of players to choose from and again it’s easy to point fingers from the sideline and judge. I’ve been there as a player and constructive criticism is the only way to go about things.

The comparison to coaching standards, technology, youth systems – there is a massive gap from overseas to Australia. FFA needs to heavily invest in these areas. We are looking at a quick fix now but we are long way away from getting things correct, right from the base upwards.

The only reason for a change of the coach right now is to restore confidence to the team. Not a lot else will change. The coach who’ll take over will pretty much play the same players maybe one or two adjustments.

We, the public, we were not happy about particular players Oseick picked.

“Didn’t blood youth” we’d say, “we have to give youngsters a chance”.

Holger did say if we never give a chance to youngsters when they will ever get an opportunity - Langerak played in goals against France.

Actually let’s look at young players that have been given an opportunity not so long ago:

Mitch Langerak 25 – Goalkeeper
Matthew Ryan 21 – Goalkeeper
Mark Birighiti 22 – Goalkeeper
Jason Davidson 22 – Defender
Ryan McGowan 24 – Defender
Craig Goodwin 21 – Defender
Aziz Behich 22 – Defender
Tom Oar – 21 Midfeilder
Mitch Nicholls – 24 Midfielder
Aaron Mooy – 23 Midefielder
James Holland 24 – Midfielder
Joshua Brilliante – 20 – Midfielder
Terry Antonis – 19 Midfielder
Adam Sarota – 24 Midfielder
Connor Pain – 19 Midfielder
Tom Rogic – 20 Midfielder
Mitchell Duke 22 – Striker
Matthew Leckie 22 – Striker
Adam Taggart – 20 – Striker
Tom Juric – 22 Striker
Eli Babalj – 21 Stiker

21 players under the age of 24 (Langarek 25 however he’s a goalkeeper he has longevity).

21 players have been given opportunities – played for Australia. Gained caps.

Osieck criticised for not giving youngsters an opportunity? Unwarranted.

People will say the bulk of those players played in the second tier cup competitions but these players have all earnt caps and some of these players have taken part in the key matches. Should we give these players above a lot more opportunities?

Osieck made the all-important substitute at home to Iraq, bringing on Josh Kennedy and taking off Tim Cahill. I disagreed in the sense being 0-0 after 78 minutes; Australia should have kept Cahill on and subbed a defender off however Holger was the master. It was one of the great tactic moves in Australian sport, in a long long time.

Hopefully pride is restored for Australian soccer fans alike. We should be behind the team and back the FFA. Next month we take on England at Wembley (yet to be confirmed) – difficult match.

I’m a believer we should promote youth however Australia needs the best team on the park, gelled in with the best system to get the best results for the 2014 world cup.

The country is on show and needs to showcase the best.

Griffin McMaster

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