Osieck ticks all the boxes
As Socceroos squads go, this is arguably Holger Osieck's most progressive to-date, and I reckon he’s got it spot on.
As Socceroos squads go, this is arguably Holger Osieck's most progressive to-date, and I reckon he-s got it spot on.
For so long, the Qantas Socceroos coach has fielded criticisms that his selections have been too safe, failed to blood enough young talent or recognise some of the ability on display week in, week out in the Hyundai A-League.
I-ve been one of those critics in the past. There is no point bemoaning the lack of depth in your squad if you-re not willing to give players a shot. They might crumble or they might just surprise you with their capacity to step up a level when the offered the chance to represent their country - but if we don-t give them a go, we-ll never know.
But with this squad to face Oman in Sydney in a couple of weeks, Osieck has revealed the outcome of all those friendlies and our involvement in the East Asian Cup.
Slowly but surely, fringe players have been given a taste of international football and allowed Osieck and his staff to run the rule over them and how they behave in camp and on the field.
Dino Djulbic has convinced from the UAE, while Robbie Cornthwaite took his chance when a late injury to Luke Wilkshire created an opening ahead of the friendly against the Korea Republic. Ryan McGowan's debut in the loss to Scotland and subsequent move to China clearly hasn-t changed Osieck-s mind about the defender-s potential, while Jade North appears to have done enough to convince the coach that he should be a regular squad member, if not a starter.
It-s interesting to note that in the absence of Lucas Neill, Osieck has boosted his defence with a mostly A-League selection - possibly the strongest domestic contingent he-s ever selected for a high-level competitive match.
Eugene Galekovic, Mark Milligan, Mat Ryan and Michael Thwaite will represent our domestic league and deservedly so. Whether or not they see any game time or stay in the squad long-term, we should still look at it as a vote of confidence in the rising quality of the A-League.
Wanderers fans will probably be disappointed that Michael Beauchamp or Nikolai Topor-Stanley didn-t get the nod (not that it will hurt their chances in the race for the premiership), and others might have even been hoping for a left-field selection like Eddy Bosnar - but if there-s one thing we-ve learned about Osieck, he doesn-t do left-field.
All of those selected have been incrementally drafted in, with their abilities and behaviours scrutinised over time. Even in friendlies, Osieck isn-t one to throw in a wild card. For a World Cup qualifier he wants players he knows.
Equally as promising is the true arrival of the next generation of Socceroos. Michael Zullo gets his tenth cap, James Holland his ninth, Tommy Oar-s sixth, Tom Rogic-s fourth, McGowan his third, Mat Ryan-s second - while Robbie Kruse is already at 22.
Each of these players has been slowly introduced at different times as Osieck has worked to rejuvenate the green-and-gold DNA with almost scientific process and caution over the past two years.
Having all of them in the squad at one time reveals Osieck-s belief that these young players are ready for the biggest stage. Yes, it-s only a home game against Oman - but don-t get complacent; this is international football and you have to have played the so-called minnows before you-ll be ready to face the giants.
I don-t think there can be too many individuals cursing Osieck today; there are no glaring omissions and the head coach has revealed a promising and broad selection of experience, youth and locals. And how long have we been waiting for that?
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