The recent retirement of two key international players for Australia, along with the inconsistent form and injury problems of their captain, have Socceroos fans concerned about their team’s chances in Brazil. This has alarmed the wider soccer community, who had already written off Australia for the World Cup after they were drawn into a really tough group with Spain, Netherlands, and Chile.
Just last month, Brett Holman decided to retire from international duties to concentrate on his young family and his club in the UAE. “It has been a great honor and privilege to play for Australia, and to represent one’s country is every footballer’s dream,” Holman said. Despite the player starring at the 2010 World Cup with two goals, this announcement has come as no surprise to many as he was not selected in the Socceroos squads for recent matches against Costa Rica and Ecuador.
It was only months earlier that legendary goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer decided to hang up his national team boots to concentrate on club duties at Chelsea FC. “I made a decision and I think I made the right decision at the right time” he said to AAP. This was a shock to some, but has paid off at club level as he has guided the team to two clean sheets within the last month: the UEFA Champions League semi-final and the Barclays Premier League grudge match against Liverpool.
To compound the loss of those two veteran players, captain Lucas Neill has struggled with inconsistent form since his move to the English championship at Watford, in which he only started one game. He has since struggled with niggling injuries following his subsequent loan move to Doncaster.
Australians were already given reason to be pessimistic after the draw determined that they would face World Cup champions Spain, runners up Netherlands, and South American speedsters Chile. Some question whether the Socceroos can even gain a single point in Brazil and are already declaring there is no hope for the team. And now it would seem the Socceroos have more problems to think about leading into the 2014 World Cup.
On a more positive note, there have been some quiet achievers in some of Europe’s biggest leagues. Goalkeeper Mat Ryan (22), who won the 2012-2013 Australian A-League Grand Final with Central Coast Mariners, has started all of Club Bruges’s games this season and helped lead the Belgian club to second position in the Jupiler League table with 13 clean sheets. Despite his tender age, he has been touted as Schwarzer’s ready-made replacement.