Socceroos Failure Is A Blessing In Disguise

It is what it is. The Socceroos didn’t automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia, after they failed to obliterate Thailand on the score-sheet like many had predicted.

Now, ultimately, if it is to be done, it is to be done the hard way. A home and away play off against Syria is locked in for early October, with a meeting against the 4th placed CONCACAF team the prize for the victor. The winner of that second tie will progress to the big show.

Is this the pathway we envisaged to make the World Cup? Most fans would say absolutely not. Maybe our own expectations have gotten the better of us? Maybe qualifying through Asia isn’t as straightforward as everyone thinks? Whatever the case, this is the wake up call Australian football needed.

So instead of being scared by the thought of these play offs, lets embrace them. These games will have huge interest around the country, reaching those who usually have nothing to do with football. Interest in the Socceroos that has been missing since the Asian Cup triumph in 2015.

Just a few months ago, 95,000 turned up to Argentina vs Brazil at the MCG, with less than 50,000 showing up a few days later for Australia vs Brazil. Doesn’t that say a lot about the position of the national team in the eyes of the Australian public.

But it’s ok. They can change that.  The predicament that the Socceroos have left themselves in, gives them the chance to become heroes. The do or die nature of these upcoming contests can turn players who we know have potential, like Mooy, like Rogic, like Leckie into household names all around the country.

So now is the time to get behind the national team, as the road to Russia is much more difficult, but it will make the potential reward that much sweeter.





Four Quick Thoughts Before Thailand Decider

  1. Home crowd must be up for it – Socceroos fans have been criticised for the lack of atmosphere at home games over the past few years. This Tuesday, fans in Melbourne must lift. AAMI Park must be a cauldron of noise to push the Socceroos from the outset. Need some inspiration? Go back and listen to the atmosphere the Japanese fans created in the Saitama Stadium 2002 last night. Sing your songs, hold your banners high, a World Cup place is on the line.
  2. First 30 minutes are vital – Due to the predicament the Socceroos have put themselves in, goals are a necessity. The green and gold must be ruthless in front of goal and show intent from the first whistle. An early goal from the Thai’s will make things a lot more difficult.
  3. Changes must be made – The Australians were outplayed against Japan and changes should occur to steady the ship. The absence of Aaron Mooy (due to illness) against the Samurai Blue was notable and he should be one of the inclusions in the starting 11 vs Thailand. Brad Smith’s lack of game time at his English Premier League club Bournemouth was evident. Smith was often caught out defensively and let Takuma Asano sneak through the Socceroos back line to score Japan’s first goal. Other options for that left-wing back position should be explored, with Alex Gersbach a viable replacement. A recognised striker should start on Tuesday night, as Robbie Kruse struggled to make a considerable impact in an unpreferred position. Either Tomi Juric, Tim Cahill or Jamie Maclaren can fill that void, with Juric the ultimate preference to start if he has overcome his injury concerns.
  4. Luck- If we are to qualify automatically for next year’s World Cup in Russia, we need a little luck. While we don’t need the Japanese to necessarily win or draw against Saudi Arabia (assuming Australia win), we need them to put in a professional performance. Knowing the discipline and integrity of the Japanese team, it shouldn’t be an issue. But first and foremost, a strong performance vs Thailand is key.