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”.