Part Two: Aging Socceroos in Shambles

Future Australian Captain, Brett Holman?

By Jack Brady

Archie Thompson, Brett Emerton and even Harry Kewell, these men should never play for the Socceroos again.

Archie is a 33 year old striker, who has spent the majority of his soccer career in Australia. Regardless of his five years in Belgium and his lacklustre two games for PSV Eindhoven, Thompson has never really reached any great heights in his footballing career outside of Australia.

I am constantly shocked by Australian coach Holger Osieck’s constant selection of Thompson. After all, there really is no great merit in doing so.

As for Emerton and Kewell, both of these men played in the A-League this season with both attributing poor seasons as their respective clubs both went terrible. Kewell now is unsigned and hasn’t played since the start of the year whilst Emerton, come 2016, will be thirty-five and will have, by then, been playing low quality soccer, that the A-League sustains, for the last three seasons beforehand.

Not an ideal prospect.

On a positive note, Osieck has done Australian soccer a favour in their last game against Scotland by finally promoting some young blood into the team.

Jason Davidson (aged 21) and Rhys McGowan (23) both made their debuts last week and while Davidson scored a goal… for the other side, they each showed enough to stake a claim to be a permanent fixture in the Socceroos side for years to come.

With upcoming fixtures against lower nations Lebanon and Jordan coming up, there should be no reason as to why Osieck doesn’t pick players like Davidson, McGowan, Tommy Oar (aged 20), Luke De Vere (22), James Troisi (24), Chris Herd (23) and goalkeeper, Mitch Langerak (23).

Osieck should also consider opening up starting spots for those younger players whom have played in recent games, players like Robbie Kruse (23), Rhys Williams (24), Nikita Rukavytsya (25) and Mark Milligan (27).

Primarily, Osieck should look to two men to lead the Socceroos out these dark days, Brett Holman and Adam Federici.

Federici is a ready-made replacement for aging keeper, Schwarzer. At 27 years of age, Federici, baring injury, has at least two more World Cups in him and will only get better if he continues to play for the recently promoted Reading, in arguably the best soccer league in the world, the English Premier League.

Similarly, Brett Holman has signed on with Aston Villa this season and as Australia’s best player in the 2010 failure of a campaign in South Africa, he will be primed for a massive tournament when it comes around in two years time.

While he may be 30 by Brazil, I can see Holman hitting his prime in the English Premier League over the next two years and will be once again one of Australia’s best players come Rio.

Hopefully Holger Osieck will take note of my “expert” opinions and continue to push the younger guys up into the side over the next two years.

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Part One: Aging Socceroos in Shambles

Tim Cahill: Too old for the world stage?

By Jack Brady

Let’s not beat around the bush, the Socceroos are struggling.

Since their 4-2 win against Saudi Arabia on 29th February, the Socceroos have suffered a deep drop in form, losing 2-0 against Denmark and drawing with Oman and Japan.

Last Thursday, the Socceroos slumped to their fourth successive game without a victory by losing 3-1 to the 46th ranked team in the world, Scotland.

The Socceroos, arguably the 24th best team in the world, are on the brink of inevitably falling out of the top 30 best soccer nations. More profoundly, they are in severe danger of not qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro if they continue on with their current form.

Here it be said, the Socceroos are struggling on the back of their aging team.

While some may argue that age is just a number, the Socceroos have too many, dare it be said, elders in the team to contend with all the other countries.

In the Socceroos most recent games against Japan and Scotland, eight players started both games. None of these men were younger than 28.

Key players, in goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer (aged 39), central defenders Lucas Neill (34) & Sasa Ognenovski (33) and attacking midfielder Mark Bresciano (32), whilst solid, are shadows of their former self and can no longer uphold their games as they once did.

Three other men, Carl Valeri, David Carney and Alex Brosque will all be in their thirties by the time the World Cup rolls around in two years, while Luke Wilkshire has just recently hit his third decade of living. These four men have been the other mutual selections for the Socceroos over the last two games.

Socceroos coach Holger Osieck lamented Australia’s showing as unacceptable. From here, he may recall players that may be creeping too highly in the age department.

“We still have Tim Cahill,” Osieck said after Thursday’s game.

“We still have Matthew Spiranovic. Jade North who played solidly in the last qualifiers, Matty McKay will be back.”

To this quote, I both celebrate and cringe.

I cringe because Tim Cahill is 32.  He is coming off a below par season with Everton and has just recently signed on to play for the New York Red Bulls.

The American footballing stage that Cahill will be introduced to this season is a massive drop in quality in comparison to arguably the best competition in the world, the English Premier League.

By the time Rio comes around, Cahill will be 34, perhaps too old to be competitive on the world stage?

Similarly to Cahill, Jade North and Matt McKay will be in their thirties and have never reached great heights as is.

On the plus side, I cheer. I cheer at the fact that Osieck has mentioned Matthew Spiranovic, and put him into calculations to feature in the team in the near future.

24 year old Spiranovic is a rising star of the Australian soccer scene and his inclusion in the starting XI would only be a positive boost for the Socceroos qualifying for Brazil in two years time.

Stay tuned for Part Two of the “Aging Socceroos in Shambles”.