Guus Hiddink, the coach of the Socceroos,
has unveiled his World Cup Squad, which could be best described as conservative.

The 23 man squad contains the core of the team which beat
Uruguay over two legs last November, plus three relatively untried players:
German based Josh Kennedy (23 years old), and local players Mark Milligan (20)
and Michael Beauchamp (25). Only three in the 23 man squad are under 25
years of age.

The Football Federation of Australia (FFA) has aimed for one of two eventualities:
a strong and passionate showing from a settled, experienced team in the
hope, however unlikely, that they can beat Japan
and/or Croatia and force a draw against Brazil,
sneaking Australia into the second round against all odds.

Alternatively, they could have stacked the team with youth and taken a
greater risk in the hope that one or two players explode into international
prominence.

The World Cup gave 17-year-old Pele, 19-year-old
Peruvian Teofilo Cubillas and 18-year-old Michael Owen an opportunity
to shoot from relative obscurity to international stardom on the back of
two or three memorable performances.

Even if the team played in three brave losses
during the tournament, it would help the FFA give the young soccer players
of Australia the ability to identify with “our own World Cup stars”,
players who would be young enough to play in the future World Cup
campaigns of 2010 and beyond.

Frank Farina was sacked for his inability to develop a new defence and
develop youth in the Aussie team, instead relying on the older heads to maintain
the status quo. But ultimately, if Australia
can’t win the World Cup, then it should be aiming to blood the World Cup
stars of tomorrow.

Are the short term gains of possibly
scratching out a win against the likes of Japan, Croatia
or Brazil greater than the longer term benefits of grooming the next
generation of Aussie Socceroo stars?

It all depends on whether the Aussies start winning come June 12.

Peter Fray

Save up to 50% on a year of Crikey.

This extraordinary year is almost at an end. But we know that time waits for no one, and we won’t either. This is the time to get on board with Crikey.

For a limited time only, choose what you pay for a year of Crikey.

Save up to 50% or dig deeper so we can dig deeper.

See you in 2021.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

SAVE 50%