So it’s going to be harder than we thought, but it’s the final stage of a World cup qualification campaign. Brazil 2014 is a tough challenge for the Socceroos, and now a nation realises how tough it can be.
We are not the same talented squad that saw an easier path to Germany or South Africa, we have youth coming through but our talent stocks are somewhat lower than our FIFA ranking would have us believe. We have recently dropped three spots to 24, but it’s my belief that that the ranking system is floored, and we are still reaping the benefits from our more talented squads in the past. A ranking in the mid 30’s would be more comparable to our current squad.
The oppressive heat in Oman was another factor in the result. Playing at 42c, kicking off at 5pm doesn’t make sense for any sport in the World, let alone football. FIFA have to address this issue, but have now set a very dangerous precedent. Whilst it’s a dangerous environment to play is extreme heat, the group stage has started, and games should be played under similar conditions.
Tuesday night will be a key moment of our campaign. Japan has started in a blaze of glory, winning both games convincingly and having a +9 goal difference. The blue samurai come to Brisbane full of confidence, and knowing that a victory against the Socceroos could almost assure them of a plane ticket to Brazil.
So why does it appear that Japan are light years in front of the Socceroos at the moment, only one spot separates them in the FIFA rankings, but on current form Japan are looking the goods. Japan is firing on all cylinders, and the Socceroos are barely getting out of second gear. You only have to look at the domestic structure of football in each country. The J-League is a very successful, financial league, and is the giant of Asian football. Patrons are filing through the turnstiles, clubs are financially viable, and the standard of football is very impressive.
Have a look over your shoulder at the A-League and currently the rest of Asia doesn’t have to be too concerned. Poor management, club infighting, new clubs and licence hand backs affect every level of football in Australia. I have the feeling that we have the 10 team structure that will currently have will be around for years to come, and is a must for our 2018 qualification.
I am confident we will be on the plane with Japan to Brazil. A shaky start from our Socceroos heroes but even if we lose against Japan on Tuesday night, we are still on track. Our squad isn’t our strongest, but is far greater than Iraq, Jordan and Oman and that is what matters. For all the people saying our squad is too old, show me a better option than Schwarzer, Ognenovski or Kewell.
We must qualify for the future of the game at a domestic level in Australia
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Our next three games
June 12 v JAPAN (home)
September 11 v JORDAN (away)
October 16 v IRAQ (away)Google+