Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kruse and Williams to miss World Cup; Socceroos further taunted by Satan

Australians are used to the heat, but even those enduring eternal damnation in the fires of Hades might posit that this January has been atypically warm. While the Australian wilderness bakes, new Socceroos manager Ange Postecoglu must be sadly regarding his kitchen’s increasing temperature: first, he was dealt a truly petrifying group and in the past ten days, he has lost two key players for the onrushing World Cup.
Striker Robbie Kruse and midfielder/defender Rhys Williams have both suffered with season-ending injuries, blows which may perhaps define the World Cup for their countrymen.

The pair, Australia’s most eligible leaders, were the fresh faces of Postecoglu’s new Socceroos. The manager’s initial remit was to overhaul a staid national setup, with the two players most liable to benefit most from a divestment of “leadership” were Kruse and Williams. Mainstream Australia could identify with the pair – good players in excellent competitions, with the bonus of representing the Socceroos for long enough to be recognizable while not being members of the burnished Golden Generation.

The enforced withdrawals remove a vast element of class from any potential World Cup squad. While the A-League – and, indeed, most Asian football leagues – are improving in quality, there’s little question that the cream of Australian footballers ply their trade in Europe, and are regarded by Skippies with a certain amount of expectation. With Kruse and Williams sidelined, more of that responsibility sits awkwardly on the shoulders of unproven midfielders Tommy Oar, Tom Rogic and James Holland.

There is likely one silver lining from a dark week in Australian football: the squad that Postecoglu will select for Brazil will likely be comprised of very familiar names – old ones yukking up proto-retirement in the Emirati leagues (you’re excluded, Mark Bresciano), and younger players who appear in local competitions. That group includes interesting names such as left-back Ivan Franjic, Robbie Cornthwaite, Aaron Mooy and “Viduka-lite” Tomi Juric.

The post-World Cup boost Australian soccer received in 2006 was palpable around the then-nascent A-League, even though only one local made the squad. With half the squad in the general vicinity and a more unified outlook brought about by Postecoglu’s share-the-wealth game plan, Australian football can look upon the past week’s terror as an opportunity – albeit a sad one – to expand its brand and showcase the talent on display at home.

No comments:

Post a Comment