Being rank underdogs at the World Cup will be a huge plus for the Socceroos, says retired national team great Brett Emerton.
Emerton’s two World Cup appearances – in 2006 and 2010 – has given him a genuine insight into the pressures of playing at a World Cup.
And the former English Premier League star and 95 times capped Socceroo says pressure on Australia’s opponents to defeat the green and gold is something of an advantage when the squad kicks off its campaign next month in Brazil.
“Without doubt, sometimes it’s worse having expectations of everyone expecting you to win,” Emerton said at Tuesday’s launch of FFA’s Whole of Football School Strategy.
“I think it’s a massive advantage for us. A lot of our players will be unknown to the likes of Spain, Holland and Chile – you’re an unknown quantity.
“Whereas with Spain for example, we all know how the likes of Iniesta and Xavi play.
“You’re going into the game as underdogs. No one expects anything from you and I used to see it as an opportunity to show everybody that I deserved to be out there on that park."
It’s a sentiment that Socceroo World Cup hopeful Adam Taggart has underlined earlier this week when asked about playing against bigger names in the group from Chile, Holland and Spain.
“Hopefully we can use that to our advantage," added the former Sydney FC midfielder.
It’s easy to talk up spirit and determination but once a team arrives into the pressure cooker of a World Cup, it can sometimes be overwhelming for younger players.
“Each and every player react and respond differently to different situations. I used to thrive in those situations," added Emerton.
“And now as a fan watching them play, I’m looking for those one or two players who are really going to stand up and make a name for themselves and become a household name.
“There’s no better place [than a World Cup] to stand up and become a hero."
Emerton scored 20 goals in an international career that ran from 1998 to 2012, earning the humble star a place in the upper echelon of Australia’s greatest football players.
And he is tipping goals galore in the Socceroos' group in Brazil.
“We will go there with an attacking mentality, giving it 110%.
"We won’t sit back and play for a draw. Hopefully that will make for entertaining football for the public.
“And I guess that’s what this World Cup is about for us.
"It’s about capturing the imagination of the Australian public again and getting them on the Socceroos’ bandwagon once again.
“I think we’ve lost that in recent years.
“Hopefully this next generation of players can do that and if they can achieve that, that will continue on into the Asian Cup next January.”
Emerton added he gained an insight into Postecoglou’s philosophy during the 2013 Foxtel A-League All Stars campaign against Manchester United.
And with Emerton being the kind of versatile, high-energy player the Socceroo coach loves; the former Blackburn Rovers star wishes he were ten years younger right now.
“He’s the perfect fit for the Socceroos and I have every confidence in him that he’ll do a fantastic job. I would’ve loved to have played under him.”
Meanwhile, at 35 Emerton remains as fit-looking as he was in his playing days.
The former Socceroo hinted he might seek to work in the strength and conditioning side of sport after recently gaining his TAFE qualifications in personal training.
Send Off the Socceroos
Socceroos vs South Africa, presented by NAB
Monday 26 May 2014 ANZ Stadium, Sydney Kick-off: 7.30pm
Tickets from $30, including public transport. Buy now!
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