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    SOCCER WHO?

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    The current Australian Socceroos team is vastly different from the one we had during the last two decades. There is no longer players with the likes of Mark Viduka or Harry Kewell showcasing their individual brilliance and playing for top clubs in Europe. Mark Breschiano and Tim Cahill are all that we have left from the group that so many Australians called ‘the golden generation’. Yet it’s not all doom and gloom.

    Current coach Ange Postecoglou has been working behind the scenes on regenerating the team and has succeeded in bringing through a new crop of youngsters to herald a new era for the Australian Socceroos. Some of the current Australian squad of players such as defender Alex Wilkinson play their football in the less desired leagues of Asia while others play for lower league clubs in Europe. So why isn’t Australia producing the same high standard of players as it has done in the past?

    Some of that may come down to the lack of scouting and player development from a young age. Football Federation Australia needs to do more to identify and develop those that demonstrate unique soccer skills and talents from an early age. Children need to also be given the freedom to think for themselves on the field and play to their strength rather than robotically follow stringent codes and rules that are based on the Dutch way of playing the game. Australia has been fascinated far too long with the Dutch football system and has been attempting to replicate it by implementing it into the FFA football Curriculum so that it could be practiced by players at grass-root level all the way to those in the national team, but is it really the best way to go?

    Under the Dutch system, Australian players appear to take fewer chances in-front of goal and are more likely to automatically pass the ball to other players on the wing just so they can have it crossed back in again for them to try and head it into goal. What happened to being brave, backing yourself and taking chances when the opportunity presents itself in front of goal? Australia has so far failed to produce a recognisable world class attacker or an attacking midfielder for that matter since the Dutch System has been implemented. Football Federation needs to wake up and realise that this way of thinking simply does not suit our Australian mentality or way of playing.

    Some may argue that what FFA is trying to do currently will bear fruit down the track, but it has simply been far too long without much to shout about. Why has FFA gone on this tangent to change something which was working well for Australia? Each country has its own way of playing and Australia should be no different. The Socceroos can look to other countries for ideas, but not follow their way of playing to the letter. The FFA along with fans, coaches and players need to recognise the importance of working on our own game and taking proper steps to improve it.

    There is no denying that FFA has made some strides and deserves credit for the work it has done with the A-league, getting it to the level where it is currently. A few tweaks need to happen in order to help produce better players who can go play at bigger leagues and one day for the national team. There is a need to increase the salary cap to entice and maintain local and international players to the league rather than bringing in those that once were a household name but now are close to retirement. It is paramount to give local players time to develop and prove themselves in the Australian league. More importantly when they leave our shores to force their way into the team sheets of European clubs. The Socceroos shirt should be worn with pride and only be given to those that have shown progress or those who have excelled exponentially. Player development can be accelerated by having a second national team which acts more of a reserves team, schedule regular games internationally and that way more players will be ready to eventually step up to the first team when that time comes. People need to once again sit back and recognise the Socceroos instead of asking soccer who.

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