The days are peeling off the calendar. Suddenly we’re a month away from another FIFA World Cup Finals.
Socceroos fans are approaching the upcoming festival of football with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. A new coach; a new-look squad; storied opponents and the whole world watching.
There’s nowhere to hide.
It’s important when the mission is as daunting as this to embrace the challenge and generate some excitement about what lies ahead.
Here are six reasons to get excited about the Socceroos in Brazil.
If you’ve ever jumped from a plane (and your columnist has) you’ll know that those moments where you’re stepping out the door of the plane with your foot on the strut of the wing are the longest in your life.
The moment you take the leap and are hurtling through the sky at terminal velocity is easily the most exhilarating!
Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos are waiting to step out that door as we speak. Soon enough, this new generation will be free falling and taking that plunge against the world’s best teams.
If they give themselves to the moment, conqueror their fears and go for it who knows what they might achieve?
It’s a mindset. If they get that right, they just might surprise.
The Socceroos are back in Australian hands. With Ange Postecoglou in charge we have a coach who understands Australian football culture, its values, strengths and weaknesses.
Postecoglou has skin in the game. He has staked his considerable reputation on rejuvenating this team. True, he’s walking into the fire in Brazil and could be torched.
That he’s prepared to do so is crucial. I expect his players to do the same.
Australia’s tradition of producing quality goalkeepers continues.
With the retirement of veteran Mark Schwarzer, Mat Ryan and Mitchell Langerak look set to battle it out for the role as Socceroo numero uno.
Both are products of the Hyundai A League and are carving fine careers for themselves in Europe. Langerak at Borussia Dortmund; Ryan at Club Brugge.
Whoever gets the gig is sure to be busy - either way the Socceroo penalty area will be in safe – albeit busy - hands.
Tim Cahill represents the last link to the Socceroos’ golden generation of 2006.
Crucially for Postecoglou, Cahill has embraced his philosophy of regeneration and his role as elder and mentor within the team.
He’s always been passionate about the national shirt and now he’s been energized by the challenge of leaving a substantial legacy with this group of players.
You wouldn’t put it past Cahill of finding a way to steal the spotlight in one or more of these games.
The bigger the moment, the better he gets.
At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Lucas Neill’s outstanding tournament catapulted his career.
In Brazil, I expect the rest of the world to discover what everyone at Crystal Palace already knows.
Mile Jedinak is a gun. Expect the big clubs to come calling.
Asian Cup 2015
Regardless of results, the team that goes into this World Cup will be transformed by the experience of the tournament. Even if they get mugged a couple of times by the world’s best, they are sure to be tougher and wiser for the experience.
Postecoglou will ensure that.
And with Australia hosting the 2015 Asian Cup Finals right on the heels of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 they should be street wise and battle hardened, ready for tournament football.
The Socceroos will never have a better preparation for an AFC Asian Cup Finals. And it is why they should lift their first major piece of silverware on home soil in early 2015.