Tuesday, May 11, 2010


The Contenders

Socceroo fans have long since given up on expecting any selection surprises from Pim Verbeek, and sure enough, the 31-man provisional squad announced today for the World Cup is a case of same old, same old.

Tommy Oar's selection could hardly be called a surprise, given the hints Verbeek has dropped about the Brisbane youngster in recent weeks. No prizes for guessing that James Holland would be among the candidates as well, despite the fact that he is still playing only reserve football in Europe.

It's good to see Nikita Rukavytsya there. He has emphatically found his feet in Belgium after the initial disappointments in Holland, and he deserves his place (I feel he deserves a spot in the final 23 as well, but that's another matter). In the fullness of time, a Kennedy-Rukavytsya pairing could be just what the doctor ordered for Australia, particularly against Asian opposition. The chances of such a forward partnership taking the field in South Africa, however, are close to nil.

The main talking points are at the back. Sasa Ognenovski? Never a Verbeek favourite, of course, but his form in Korea should probably have put him ahead of Jade North and Michael Beauchamp in the reckoning. Beauchamp's career has stalled badly following his stellar 2005/06 season with the Mariners, while North has been disappointingly inconsistent in the green and gold.

There have been sentimental calls for Nathan Burns, golden boy of a few years ago, to be called up as well, but I feel his omission is reasonable enough. Although he has had an excellent season in the Greek second division, playing and scoring regularly, it is hardly the apex of European football. He seems to have gotten his career back on track, though, and he should be in the reckoning for 2014.

Harry Kewell's fitness will probably remain the focus of media interest leading up to the tournament, but a more pertinent question is whether Australia's creaking defence, with its inexperienced understudies, will be able to withstand the challenges of tougher opposition than they have faced in competitive play for some years. If they can, Australia might yet scrap their way out of their very tough group.

I'm reading a lot of criticism of Ognenovsky not being included. I love him and used to enjoy he and Moore work well together, but isn't this debate dead?

Way back I remember it being said that he wanted to play for Macedonia, and Pim said Og said that to him. Isn't everyone assuming that Oggy is even available for selection?

Or is there something I missed?

Cheers Mike. I'm hoping you can get a bit of time from the family for writing during the Cup. Always enjoy it.
Colosimo's non-selection is absolutely ridiculous given North and Beauchamp were picked.
It's the case of the old 'boys club' mentality from verBleak it seems.

Regardless of what Og might have said, he would jump at the chance to be in the WC. And having witnessed him play in Brisbane for 2 years, I could hardly see him 'just turning up'.

While I don't think he is a world-beater, he and certainly Colosimo (more so IMO), most certainly should be there ahead of North and Beauchamp.

verBleak can't leave Australia without one last damaging action for HAL.

He's a cunt, and he's boring as bat shit. If we fail (and I certainly hope we don't), at least we'll be minus The Bleak.
12 guys from the A-League is great for the future of the League I reckon. And Nikita, Tommy O, James Holland added to Valeri, Holman, Williams, Burns and a few old fellas and we might get through Asia next time yet

"Same old, same old," who were you expecting or hoping for Mike?

Ognenovski over North? I'll take North's pace anyday.

Beauchamp behind Williams, I'll live with that and hope Beauchamp never plays!

Who else is/was there? Don't tell me you really think Alex Brosque can do it at this level like some of the Aussie media journalist clowns we have?

Interested Mike did Pim really miss anyone in his 31?
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Not in the Brosque camp, Eamonn, but Simon Colosimo could consider himself a tad unlucky not to get a guernsey (at least in the enlarged squad), and IMO the Og even more so.

The point is that of the defenders Pim's picked, many are barely playing. I'd rather someone who's properly match-fit over a perhaps slightly superior player who's been out of serious action for a while.

We learnt that lesson with Paul Okon in the 2001 playoff, I think.
I don't understand anyone saying Colosimo should have been picked over Beauchamp or North. Beauchamp and North were too good for the a-league from the start while Colosimo is a very good a-league player and nothing more. Just because North and Beauchamp may have had bad luck overseas doesn't mean Colosimo is better than them.

Pim has to pick someone other than Moore to partner Neill in all the friendlies leading up to the World Cup. If they fail, then play Moore for the cup, but don't play him all the way leading up. Our ability to stop the German and Serbian strikers is what is going to take us to the next round and I don't think Moore/Neil will do that.
Pim was always going to select based on a 4-2-3-1 outfield formation with 2 players in every position and seven spares. Safety nets are important for Pim.

kennedy + ruka/macca

kewell, vidosic + oar

cahill, holman + carle

bresc, emmo, + garcia

grella, culina, valeri, jedi + holland

carney, chipp + lowry

neil, moore, milligan + beauchamp(/Lowry/North)

wilkshire, williams + north

Garcia is a backup for Bresc, Lowry for Carney's dinky shoulder, North for Williams. Ruka & Macca and Holman & Carle fight to the death with Ruka and Holman the likely winners (Holman to be a heartbreaker tho). Beauchamp odds on to go but not play unless North/Lowry embarass him at training. Holland and Oar for the ride.

Its a shame Oga, Bosnar and the Griffiths brothers didn't play significant roles in the AC or WC qualifiers but if Pim didn't trust/test them then no way he would do it now. No top level manager would. Too big a risk putting those temperamental egos in a very stable squad who function as a unit so well. They know their roles in the system and have to live together for over a month.

Coyne has had a bad 12 months. Complete turnaround. Colossimo didnt inspire enough confidence in the AC qualifiers.

Kisnorbo, Spiro and Madaschi had worse luck. On form if Kisnorbo was fit you would expect him to be prolly just behind Moore in the pecking order. Coyne, J.Burns, Sterj, Spiro and Madaschi were injury cover contenders who fizzed out.

Who can come good in 6 months for the AC?
Daniel, thanks. A very neat, succinct summary of what's going on. To the extent, in my struggling ignorance, that I am now calling your humble post the Orthodox View. And I support Pim's decisions. What choice does a patriotic supporter have really?
Interesting comments from Dan Silkstone too. I think he's on the money with most of that.
That said, I wish the Griffiths, Ogga and Bosnar had just a little bit of perspective and tact in front of the media, and constantly sent dvds of their own games to Pim. Anything to for a chance to be involved. I wish Coyne had had a good year in the HAL and Spiro had played 15-20 outstanding games at Urawa. I wish they had consequently played in the A league only teams for the Asian cup and done brilliantly.

I wish both Griffiths, Ogga, Bosnar, Madaschi, Coyne and Colossimo had all made compelling cases for selection but they haven't quite done enough.

And I also wish Culina and Moore were dropped for 1 game months ago and decided to work their ass off and were in peak form now. I wish Carle had created one goal. I wish Macca had scored one goal and I wish Holman had found a first touch.

We qualified for WC and AC. Most of the squad are healthy. A couple had niggles. Only Kisnorbo and very fringe players like Steffanuto and Thompson got major injuries. I hope Culina scared himself after that sideways pass to against South Korea.

27 days till party time. I'm stoked.
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