6-0 - What did you really expect?
Brazil are the most successful football nation on earth and we were playing them in their own backyard for the first time.
I have a question for all those who've been calling for the head of Holger Osieck, and everyone else associated with the national side, since the 6-0 defeat against Brazil. What did you really expect?
Brazil are the most successful football nation on earth, we were playing them in their own backyard for the first time, and the game was an important part of their build-up towards hosting next year's World Cup finals. So, on what basis, did we really think we'd be competitive?
For Brazil, every game - even a friendly - is an opportunity for their stars to try and secure a spot in the squad. And boy do they have some stars. No Fred? No problem. Bring in Jo. No Dani Alves? No problem. Bring in Maicon. No Luis Gustavo? No problem. Bring in Ramirez. The list is never-ending. In all, there are about 10,000 Brazilians playing professionally around the world. They produce more professionals than any other nation on earth. At any stage in history, if you had to pick a World XI there would be at least a couple of Brazilians in the ranks. A country of just over 201 million people has one national sport, one passion. Football. They're the best there is.
Now we compare. Australia has about one-tenth of the population, and our talent pool is spread over a vast range of sports. How many potential Harry Kewell-s are currently running around playing AFL, Rugby or even Cricket?
If you have some spare time, cast your eye over FIFA's list of the world-s top 50 clubs and you-ll see that we have just one player currently at one of these clubs (Mark Schwarzer). And he's now second-choice at Chelsea.
It-s widely accepted the top five competitions in Europe are the English, Spanish, German, Italian and French leagues. Currently, across these leagues, we have just one - yes one - player who's a regular at his club (Mile Jedinak). In 2006, at the World Cup, the Socceroos had 13 players spread across these leagues. That's a massive difference.
That's why we call that group the 'Golden Generation'. Quite correctly, in my opinion. It's the best squad we've ever assembled. By contrast the current squad is vastly inferior. We've done well to simply qualify for the World Cup. So let's not get carried away.
The strength of national teams invariably goes in cycles. Right now we're in a period of transition - waiting for the next generation to prove themselves. Until they do, we're stuck with an older generation of players who are beyond the peak of their powers.
The fact is we'll never be a top 10 football power. What we need to aim for is being competitive in big tournaments when we have our golden periods. The goal is to make sure we're hard to beat, and capable of causing a shock or two. Hopefully, one day we'll develop our own style in keeping witrh the new national curriculum. As Han Berger says, 'football, not fightball.'
In the meantime, let's have a dose of reality. As a sporting nation we may be used to success on the international stage, but too often that expectation is naively attached to the Socceroos. Beating Brazil in their own backyard? I say it again. What did we really expect?
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