After signing with Chelsea this week on a free transfer, Mark Schwarzer said “I didn’t take much convincing to come here,” which is a very normal response for a player that’s just signed for a new club. However, Schwarzer’s move to Chelsea may hurt both Australia and himself in next summer’s World Cup tournament in Brazil.
The former Fulham man has held the number one shirt for the Socceroos for the best part of a decade. In doing so, he has been one of Australia’s best and most consistent performers over that time. But looking at the move, I wouldn’t be pleased if I was Socceroo boss Holger Osieck. Not only will Schwarzer most likely play second fiddle to Petr Cech, the momentum he’s found in his game since that blessed penalty shootout in Sydney all those years ago will be lost.
The significance of Schwarzer’s move for the Socceroos cannot be understated. It’s opened up competition that most Australians thought didn’t exist. Now the likes of Mat Ryan at Club Brugge, Mitch Langerak at Borussia Dortmund and even consistent A-League performers Ante Covic and Eugene Galekovic are in an unfamiliar territory – a realistic chance to trump Schwarzer ahead of the World Cup.
Currently, Mitch Langerak at Borussia Dortmund finds himself limited to a substitute role behind Dortmund number one Roman Weidenfeller. This has been a talking point for many in the Australian soccer media who’ve said that a move away from the Westfalenstadion would be beneficial for the former Melbourne Victory stopper. And now with Schwarzer’s move, the push will be even greater for Langerak.
Looking away from Europe, the A-League based goalkeepers shouldn’t be overlooked. In recent World Cup qualifiers, Melbourne Victory midfielder Mark Milligan showed that an A-League player can step up when he displaced Crystal Palace’s Mile Jedinak in the starting line-up.
Although Schwarzer’s move hasn’t helped his chances for a swansong tournament in Brazil, it has potentially opened the door for a new number one down under.
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