Socceroos Start Life Under Ange

Image courtesy of Porteous
Ange Postecoglou takes over a Socceroo side in disarray. Image courtesy of Porteous
Australian football has always had a fascination with overseas coaches. The team had its greatest success under Guus Hiddink at the 2006 World Cup; Terry Venables had the Socceroos on the brink of qualification for the 1998 event; while Pim Verbeek and Holger Osieck managed to get the national team to the big dance, but were criticised for the team’s performances and the lack of faith in youth.

With Australia already on its way to Brazil in 2014, Ange Postecoglou steps in to Osieck’s shoes for the first time tomorrow night when the Socceroos take on another qualifier, Costa Rica , in Sydney on Tuesday night. The Dutchman was given his marching orders after presiding over back-to-back 6-0 thumpings at the hands of Brazil and France.

Postecoglou has showed he has what it takes at domestic level, but he is unproven internationally, with Australia’s underage teams generally struggling while he was heading up the program, with the poorly prepared Young Socceroos failing to qualify for the under 20 World Cup in 2006 for the first time in two-and-a-half decades.

Luke Wilkshere, Brett Holman and Sasa Ognenovski are notable omissions from his first squad selection as Socceroos coach, while veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has opted to retire from international football to concentrate on seeing out his days with EPL powerhouse Chelsea. This match is the first stage in a battle between the likes of Mitchell Langerak and Mat Ryan to see who will replace Schwarzer between the sticks.

Despite criticism over his recent performances and lack of high-level football, Lucas Neill has retained the captain’s armband for the time being, which means he’ll overtake former ‘keeper Peter Wilson in skippering his country the most times. Another interesting point will be to see how he uses talisman Tim Cahill , who seem to struggle working as a lone man up front in recent times.

Costa Rica cruised through CONCACAF qualifying for the World Cup, finishing second behind the United States. While they won all five matches at home in the fourth and final round of qualifying, the Ticos collected just three away points, all coming from draws . They’ll be without several top-liners on Tuesday night including Fulham’s Bryan Ruiz. Two A-League players will turn out for the visitors; former Melbourne Victory standout and now Wellington Phoenix star Carlos Hernandez , and his teammate in the New Zealand capital Kenny Cunningham. There is plenty of quality in the team, though, with Olympiacos striker Joel Campbell arguably the brightest prospect to have come out of Costa Rica in the last few years, along with Everton wide man Bryan Oviedo .

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