Holger’s test of character

Holger Osieck's selection of local players is an opportunity to see whether they can make that step up. But there is still a long way to go from here and that’s a very important message.

I was not surprised to hear in Holger Osieck-s press conference to announce his Hyundai A-League based squad for the East Asian Cup that he made the media well aware that, yes, these are talented players but are they Socceroos? No.

This is just an opportunity to have a look at a group of players and to see whether they can make that step up. There is a long way to go from here and that-s a very important message.

What we can see now, with the likes of Matty McKay, Tommy Oar and Robbie Kruse, is that the A-League is providing a genuine pathway from domestic football to overseas, and into being involved in the Socceroos squad.

But it doesn-t happen overnight. These guys are by no means the finished product, and they have just been given a big opportunity to impress and show the international manager what they-re all about.

The standard of the A-League has improved, without a doubt. And in the likes of Del Piero and Heskey, we now have influential characters who will improve the players around them - not only on their own teams but on other A-League teams.

Coaching also plays a massive part in bringing our domestic players up to the right level, and we-re very fortunate with the likes of Ange Postecoglou and Graham Arnold - both great assets to any potential young player because you-re going to learn a lot under them.

I think Ian Ferguson has also done an excellent job at Perth Glory, and in Tony Popovic and John Aloisi, we have some good up-and-coming young managers. So as the standard of coaching continually improves it puts our young players in a better position to learn the game.

But once you get to the higher levels of the game, you can-t always be under instruction; there are things that happen on the football field where you have to make that decision yourself and you have to make it in a split second.

As much as you work from a core base of information and preparation, there are moments in a game that can never be coached.

After the good performance against Korea Republic, where the boys showed good character and there were no negative stories, I think Holger is excited to have a longer period of time with this young squad, to really have a good look at them.

There are a lot of things we don-t see behind the scenes, such as how a player settles in a different team environment from what they-re used to, how they blend within the squad, how they mix with other players, how they handle the whole life away from club and home.

Holger and the other coaches will be watching how they settle into that team environment and what impression they make. Not only in the hotel and at meal time when they-re communicating with teammates and coaching staff, but also what they show on the training field and how they react to information - do they take it onboard or do they struggle to take it onto the training paddock or into the actual match?

Even at this early stage, however, I think Holger-s got a clear idea about who he-s looking at, and I would imagine there are a few players on the fringes he wants to see take an extra step.

There were no real surprises in the squad, except perhaps Adam Taggart. Tags has done really well in the Young Socceroos and being included in a senior squad will bring him on a lot.

Of the other lads, Aaron Mooy-s shown this season that he-s got good potential, and Tom Rogic, we-re all looking forward to watching again.

But all of those players called up should see this as a reward for their hard work. It by no means means their careers are established and they-ve made it - but what a great starting point. The ones that are really going to kick on from here - and it won-t be all of them - but the ones that really grab this opportunity, they-re the people we-ll be talking about in years to come.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not represent those of FFA of the Qantas Socceroos.