Friday, June 08, 2007

Australian Asian Cup Squad

Australian 23 man Asian Cup squad.

Goalkeepers: Mark Schwarzer, Brad Jones, Michael Petkovic.

Defenders: Lucas Neill, Brett Emerton, Michael Beauchamp, Michael Thwaite, Mark Milligan, Patrick Kisnorbo.

Midfielders: Mark Bresciano, Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill, Vince Grella, Mile Sterjovski, Luke Wilkshire, Jason Culina, Carl Valeri, Nick Carle, David Carney.

Forwards: Mark Viduka, John Aloisi, Archie Thompson, Brett Holman.


All up it is a fairly strong looking side and the majority will form the 2010 World Cup team over the next few years.

First up, the goalkeepers. Schwartzer picks himself obviously but in the backups I have a few qualms. I have no problem with Jones being picked, "that mistake" against Uruguay is just something that happens and his form playing for Middlesbrough whenever he has gotten a chance has been great. I do however have a big problem with Michael Petkovic being picked. Seriously, Petkovic is not going to be there come World Cup time and I think the squad position (all the third goalkeeper really is) would have been much better utilised if it had have gone to young Danny Vukovic. He will be around in the years to come and he has real talent. I just think we are wasting our time dwelling on Petkovic.

So it looks like we will be playing a 5-4-1 with wingbacks from the squad that was picked. The 3 central defenders I would play being Neil who really Picks himself, Kisnorbo - Although shaky at times I think persisting with him will pay off and Beauchamp who I would pick every day of the week over Thwaite. However Thwaite looks to be our only left sided defender.... which will probably see him line up in a wingback role with Emerton on the right. The only other players I can think that could get a run over Thwaite would be Wilkshire. I have even read people talking about Carney playing in a wingback role!... But I think that is going WAY too far. Spiranovic wasn't picked not because he wasn’t good enough or considered but because Arnold and his coach at Nuremburg came to an agreement where it would be better for the kid to be involved in pre season training for his club rather than get a single cap and warm the bench for Australia. Make of it what you will.

The midfield is where our real strength lies. Kewell, Cahill, Bresciano, Grella, Culina, Sterjovski. We are spoilt for choice and any combination of these players would do us proud. I was surprised to see both Valeri and Milligan in the squad to be honest. I thought it could have been more balanced if we picked only one of the two and picked a specialist left back. Milligan is always being groomed as a defensive midfielder and picking him as a defender in this squad is just to get him in there. Carle and Carney are flying the A-League midfield flags. So much crap gets dished out to Carle but he is a creative spark that I want to see in the team. He will get game time and prove a few people wrong.

Up front we look like persisting with the lone striker and I think the squad was picked around this fact. Viduka was made for this role and will be our number one choice every time. Aloisi, although not as natural in this role can still do the job while Thompson and Holman offer something different if changes are forced to be made. McDonald missing out is a bit of a surprise but he is in a similar situation to Spiranovic, having to stay at his new club Celtic for pre season to try to cement himself in the team. He would not be a key figure for Australia and I think the right decision was made for both the future of the player and the national team. We may very well need him come 2010 and we don’t want a player that doesn’t get any game time for their club starting. Personally I wouldn’t have picked him in front of any of the other forwards in the squad anyway to be honest.

The other self omissions are Chipperfield ruling himself out so he can be with his pregnant wife who is due to give birth during the tournament is a fair call, however Skoko ruling himself out solely to 'concentrate on club football' as he so nicely put it should not be tolerated. I don't know if Arnie would have said to him "You won't be getting much game time son so don't bother" but it could have been handled better I think. This just leaves a sour a taste in my mouth, especially when he is picking his own match to have his "swansong" farewell. Give the spot to a young guy who is actually interested in the direction of the national team!