Australia coach Ange Postecoglou was true to his word and yesterday picked a youthful 30-man Socceroos preliminary squad for the World Cup finals in Brazil.
Postecoglou took over from German Holger Osieck just six months ago and had promised to ease out Australia’s aging “golden generation” in favor of younger players.
He has selected a provisional party with an average age of 25 for the June 12 to July 13 tournament, where Australia have been drawn with world champions Spain, as well as the Netherlands and Chile.
The squad is littered with players in their early 20s, with two uncapped contenders for a ticket to South America in forward Ben Halloran and fellow 21-year-old Bailey Wright, a central defender.
Halloran has been in prolific form for Fortuna Duesseldorf in the German second tier, while Wright will be hoping to help Preston North End to promotion to England’s second flight before joining the squad.
Other mild surprises were the inclusion of A-League goalkeepers Eugene Galekovic and Mark Birighitti ahead of Liverpool reserve Brad Jones.
Midfielder James Troisi, who has been on loan at Melbourne Victory from Atalanta BC, Swindon midfielder Massimo Luongo and Adam Taggart, who scored 16 goals for the Newcastle Jets last season, have also been rewarded for their form.
“The majority of them have had strong seasons this year, and I guess for a lot of them, hopefully, they have a similar fire in their belly to myself in wanting to prove themselves,” Postecoglou told a news conference in Sydney. “I had some specific criteria — form, fitness and an eye for the future — and I think this squad reflects that.”
Bayer 04 Leverkusen forward Robbie Kruse (knee), Middlesbrough’s Rhys Williams (Achilles) and his fellow defender Trent Sainsbury (knee) were all ruled out by injury.
Experienced campaigners such as goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, former captain Lucas Neill, midfielder Brett Holman and forward Harry Kewell have either jumped or been pushed into international retirement since Postecoglou took over.
“We needed to change the direction of our national team. This wasn’t going to be an adjustment, this was a meaningful change and we needed to regenerate the team,” Postecoglou said. “There was no doubt in my mind that we needed to make some meaningful change in the players we selected and, at the same time, understand that it’s a World Cup.”
The players are to gather in Gosford, just north of Sydney, for a training camp this week, and three players are to be cut after a friendly against South Africa set for May 26.
There was reassurance about the fitness of Mile Jedinak, who is the leading candidate to captain the side, but suffered a groin injury in his final match of the season for Crystal Palace last weekend.
“He won’t be out for more than two or three weeks,” said Postecoglou, who is set to name his final 23-man squad on June 2. “We were going to give him time off anyway and he’ll be in Gosford on Sunday.”
WEEKEND MATCHES: While Tatung FC made good on their chances early on, Taiwan Steel rallied to win the game 2-3 and move to the top with Taichung Futuro Sunday’s action saw Taichung Futuro, Taipower FC and Taiwan Steel tied for first place on 30 points in the Taiwan Football Premier League, while Hang Yuan FC picked up a point to take the No. 4 spot on 25 points after holding Taipower to a scoreless draw. In Taoyuan, Tatung FC hosted Taiwan Steel. It was an exciting matchup, as the visitors rallied from 2-0 down to take the game with three goals. Tatung made good on their chances early on. Honduran midfielder Elias Argueta opened the account 15 minutes into the game with a low shot from the right. Three minutes
Ronnie O’Sullivan delivered a scathing attack on the next generation of snooker players after he made the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship on Sunday, ending Chinese star Ding Junhui’s world championship dream. The mercurial 44-year-old Englishman won an enthralling high-quality second-round encounter 13-10 to set up a quarter-final clash with three-time champion Mark Williams. When asked by the BBC whether he thought he would remain at the top of the game for this long, the Briton, who turned professional in 1992, said the poor quality of younger players had secured his position and that something drastic would have to happen
Max Verstappen informed his Red Bull team that he would not be driving “like a grandma” in Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday — and he was as good as his word. The Dutch 22-year-old seized his opportunity at Silverstone, ending dominant Mercedes’ run of four successive wins this season and moving up to second place overall, 30 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen’s confidence shone through early on, after slotting into third place behind the two Mercedes, when he was told by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to take care of his tires. “Mate, this is the only chance of being
FULL GAME: Henry Sosa pitched nine innings for the Guardians, allowing only six hits all night, while the Monkeys’ offense were also shut out of their game Outfielder Lin An-ko carried a big bat this week — before his Uni-President Lions ran into the Fubon Guardians last night — blasting four home runs, including a grand slam as his side won four games in a row and moved into second on the CPBL table. However, the Lions could not sustain their super-charged offense for the whole week, as they were shut out 4-0 by the Guardians in New Taipei City. Fubon’s rookie catcher, Jhang Jin-de, took a page from Lin’s playbook. With two men on, Jhang smacked a three-run homer in the sixth inning. Henry Sosa of the Dominican Republic