Caltex Socceroos v Syria: time for cool heads

When it comes to playing in big games – and they don't come much bigger than make-or-break FIFA World Cup qualifiers - it’s important to remain calm and keep everything in perspective.

Caltex Socceroos v Syria: get tickets here

Ange Postecoglou adds options for Syria play-off

Caltex Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou is certainly one that fits into that category.

And it’s never more evident than in the selection of his 30-man squad on Tuesday for next month’s FIFA World Cup Qualifying Play-offs against Syria.

The Caltex Socceroos boss has stuck with the majority of the squad that took part in the last two matches against Japan and Thailand, despite just missing out on an automatic spot at next year’s tournament in Russia.

When some were calling for mass changes, Ange has kept the faith. And it’s hard to argue.

The core of this group have been there since Australia’s historic AFC Asian Cup triumph on home soil in 2015.

They have navigated through this phase of qualifying losing just one match. And only missed out on direct qualification on goal difference.

Now is the time for cool heads.


Mile Jedinak may return for October’s AFC World Cup qualification playoff with Syria.

The return of skipper Mile Jedinak is massive. His leadership, keenness for the battle and will to win will be crucial.

He’s only just returned to the Aston Villa first-team but if he can get another game or two under his belt over the next fortnight, it’s good news for Ange and his staff.

Around the captain, the likes of Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Mathew Leckie, Mat Ryan, Tomi Juric and Robbie Kruse are in form and have the class to win any match.

And don’t forget Tim Cahill. Australia’s greatest-ever scorer is the master of the big moments.

He’s been here before – remember Uruguay? – and only needs one chance.

Caltex Socceroos' key men for Syria matches

Caltex Socceroos: recent ANZ Stadium record

These names should all instil confidence heading into these vital matches.

But another thing we know about Postecoglou is that he won’t be afraid to throw in a new face either if he believes they will do the job.

The call-up of Israel-based attacker Nikita Rukavytsya took many by surprise. But perhaps it shouldn’t have.

Rukavytsya is playing regularly and scoring goals with Maccabi Haifa. His club are equal top of the Israeli Premier League table.


Nikita Rukavytsya has been called into the Caltex Socceroos squad for the first time since 2013.

This is his first national team call-up in almost four years and the first under Postecoglou.

While it might seem a shock, the 30-year-old is experienced [he played in two matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa], has an attacking philosophy and possess tons of speed. Just what the boss loves.

It’s pleasing to see defender Matt Jurman and youngsters Awer Mabil, Mustafa Amini and Craig Goodwin also among the squad.

They are all international-class players who wouldn’t let down the green and gold jersey in these big games.

That moment could come on October 5 in Malaysia or five days later at Stadium Australia in Sydney.

While it’s sure to be a nail-biting 180 minutes [or longer perhaps], it’s time for cool heads. This Caltex Socceroos side is good enough to get the job done again and have us one step closer to Russia.


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