Robbie Kruse of Australia and Pratum Chuthong of Thailand battle for the ball.
Robbie Kruse of Australia and Pratum Chuthong of Thailand battle for the ball. Sakchai Lalit

Postecoglou must stick with those getting game time

FOLLOWING on from the Socceroos' poor performance in Thailand, the question has to be asked: where does Australia go from here?

Well, literally there is a game against Iraq in a neutral venue in March followed by a home clash with the United Arab Emirates in the same month and a huge encounter with group leader Saudi Arabia in June.

But before that coach Ange Postecoglou must decide whether to stick with players who are not playing regular club football.

While Robbie Kruse and Nathan Burns, for example, are technically gifted players, they are not getting game time in Germany and Japan respectively.

Goalkeeper Mat Ryan, who ironically was Australia's best player in the 2-2 draw in Bangkok, has not played for Valencia since August 27.

Postecoglou did not have much choice with Mitch Langerak injured and back-up keepers Adam Federici and Mark Birighitti not having any game time with Bournemouth and Swansea in the English Premier League.

Add this to the fact that the likes of skipper Mile Jedinak, Aaron Mooy and Massimo Luongo are all plying their trade in the English Championship, then the problem for Postecoglou is there for all to see.

Quite simply his higher-quality players are not playing enough and when they do it is against lesser opposition.

Therefore, as was seen against Thailand, a team the Socceroos should be beating easily, the players struggle to raise their standard.

It was surprising to see Tim Cahill left out of the team, particularly as he is now playing regularly in the A-League.

Perhaps now Postecoglou should look more at the domestic competition if players in Europe continue to struggle for game time.

They might not be as technically gifted but they are playing each week and that counts for much more in my book.

Australia was lucky to escape with a point against Thailand, which before Tuesday had not gained a point in World Cup qualifying.

The Socceroos now sit third in the group behind Saudi Arabia and Japan with some tough fixtures to come.

Postecoglou said he was still confident of qualification despite Tuesday's terrible showing.

Let's hope he's right.


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