What to expect from our A-League Socceroos
Australia’s 23 man squad encompasses seven players from the A-League – the most that has represented the domestic league since 1974. Four players have been introduced into the squad in the past year, and with Brillante and Birighitti just falling short of the final squad, the A-League has a healthy amount of young players emerging as future stars.
For the current World Cup, the seven chosen by Ange Postecoglou look set to represent the league well, with three considered first team starters and the other four looking likely to get some game time.
Matthew Spiranovic showed why he deserves to be in the starting eleven, with a solid performance against Croatia on Friday night. The 25 year old defended well against Jelavic, getting the better of the towering striker for most of the match. Jelavic plays for Hull City, and Spiranovic’s performance against him – which kept the striker at bay for the majority of the match – has shown he is ready to represent Australia against the likes of Torres, van Persie and Sanchez. Expect Spiranovic to appear in all three matches and play a key role for Australia in an inexperienced defensive line.
Mark Milligan is one of those midfielders that goes by relatively unnoticed despite consistently good performances. However, when showcased with James Holland (with all due respect to Holland), Milligan’s class shone through. He is a third of Australia’s strong midfield, and has cemented his spot as a well organised midfielder with a good touch and very good defensive positioning. He works well with Jedinak, and needs to be at his best if Australia will have any chance against Spain, Netherlands and Chile.
Ivan Franjic came into the starting squad when Postecoglou was appointed head coach, and his performances have increasingly gotten better, with arguably his best against Croatia. Not enough is said regarding Franjic’s defensive quality, and his back-tracking – after getting forward as he so often does – against Croatia was first class. He made several game saving tackles at right back and has found some national team form at the right time for Australia.
Matt McKay has 47 caps for the National Team, though has never really made a spot in Australia’s set up his own. His ability to play in almost any position seems to have worked against him. Couple that with Mark Bresciano’s return from injury, and McKay may not see much game time in Brazil. He seems to be in Brazil as a utility player, with Vidosic as Bresciano’s back up.
James Troisi didn’t get much game time against Croatia, and although he played well against South Africa, he was substituted off earlier than he would’ve liked. The 25 year old is up against the likes of Vidosic, Oar, and Bresciano, though he has some unique qualities to offer as an attacking threat, and as a creative midfielder.
Eugene Galekovic is third choice goalkeeper in Brazil, and is unlikely to get much game time. He seems to be an older version of Mat Ryan, with great distribution and being a handy shot stopper.
Adam Taggart was seen as a slight chance for the 23 man squad, but now with the opportunity in Brazil, the youngster looks set to feature against some of the best defenders in the World. He still has Cahill and Leckie ahead of him, but with his pace and ability to shoot from range, Taggart may find himself with ten or fifteen minutes in one or two games.
The A-League has a healthy representation at the 2014 World Cup, and if Australia manages to put in some good performances, then the world may just take notice — giving the A-League even more recognition and prestige as it continues to develop.