I haven't come across too many who think we'll get a point let alone make it through to the round of 16 at next month's World Cup in Brazil.Punters and pundits alike generally think we will struggle. Me? Well I like to dream and I believe dreams can come true. I reckon we might surprise a few people, here at home and elsewhere while the eyes of the world will be focussed on the greatest show on earth. Chile is the first game, three points or at least one. Holland? After hopefully being nailed by Spain there is the opportunity for at least another point. Spain? Hopefully the damage is done by then and we don't need to get anything out of it except the buzz of playing them. It will be tough but I think we've got the potential to do it. The gap between us and the rest of the world has narrowed, largely because of the change of coach and the 'changing of the guard'. The style will change automatically, not just because of Ange Postecoglou's philosophy but the personnel as well. He will pick players that can play the high tempo, precision passing, possession based game he is renowned for. These players have grown up with this type of football - even the 'old stagers' that I think will go - Luke Wilkshire, Mark Bresciano and Josh Kennedy - played this type of game in their formative years at the AIS and have all played in technically and tactically intensive competitions during their careers. We will see a different Socceroo squad that plays a different game. In Germany 2006 it was all new and fresh. We had a coach in Guus Hiddink who knew how to get the most out of players and how to use their ability to the best advantage. He picked some athletes that could also play a bit and made it difficult for the opposition with tactical awareness. Many people forget we played a back three with a spare man in Lucas Neill and two lightning quick defenders at the top of their game: Craig Moore and Scott Chipperfield. These were effectively screened by Vinnie Grella with the legs of Brett Emerton, Jason Culina and Wilkshire in front of joining the flair of Harry Kewell and the sublime Mark Viduka. Take nothing away from what was achieved but we were only 12 minutes from disaster in the first game against Japan, were outplayed by Brazil in the second and were fortunate to play Croatia in the third and scrape through. Job done, good enough and a legend was born. The game has changed a lot since then. It has just taken the Socceroos a little longer to change theirs for reasons that have been debated to death in other forums and don't need to be repeated here. Suffice to say I believe we are on the right path now. New coach, new players by and large and a new game plan. No more defending on the edge of our own box relying on desperation and numbers behind the ball. Ange likes to defend from the front, that's not to say we will press recklessly high up the pitch but when the circumstances allow it there has to be and will be pressure on the ball. Especially in the first game against Chile. They are a very attack-minded team but conceded a lot of goals during their qualifying rounds and this could be exploited by the Aussies. It has to be because this is a great chance to get some points on the board. Holland is more or less a team in transition and will rely heavily on experienced players such as Robben, van der Vaart and van Persie who is coming off a poor season with Manchester United. If, as I mentioned, the Dutch get nothing out of their opener against Spain, they could feel the pressure against Australia and this would suit us. Even their manager Louis van Gaal is playing down their chances because of the youthfulness of the team. And Spain. We all know what we are up against and we just have to go out and play and enjoy the experience because you do not get a chance to play against the best in the world very often. And just who will get this opportunity? Ange might have a couple of surprises up his sleeve but rest assured they will be picked because they can play the way the coach wants them to play. Apart from the experienced trio I've mentioned Tim Cahill will get his last hurrah, even if it might be off the bench. Mat Ryan will go as number one keeper. His ability to play with his feet is just as important as his hands. Eugene Galekovic and Mitch Langerak will fill the other two spots. I know the coach thinks a lot of Osama Malik and I hope he gets a chance, along with Trent Sainsbury and Curtis Good. Mile Jedinak is a cert for the armband so we hope he recovers from the groin injury he picked up in his final game of the season in England. And I wouldn't be surprised to see the industrious Massimo Luongo and Oliver Bozanic on the plane as well. The rest have been talked about well enough. Unlike his predecessors, Postecoglou understands the culture of the Socceroos and value of the shirt. He will also relish the challenge in front of him and, because of this, so will the players. I only have tickets for the group stage but something deep down inside tells me I might have to stay a little longer. I hope so.
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