On the 7th of December, any hopes Australia had of making it through the 2014 FIFA World Cup crashed and burned. Drawn in the group of death with Spain, The Netherlands and Chile, any prospect of advancement appears to be pretty grim.
Regardless, like every true Socceroo and Australian Hero that has gone before the 23 men selected, they will fight. Fight with passion and pride for the badge they’re representing. There are four Hyundai A-League players outlined in this article who pose a real chance of claiming one of the tickets to Brazil.
For me, no one has been as good between the sticks this season as Mark Birighitti. Finally finding his feet with consistent game time, Birighitti has proven on countless occasions that he can keep the ball out. Big, tall and agile, Birighitti provides the perfect balance between aesthetics and pure talent. He has the look and he has the skill, pulling out numerous Save of the Season contenders.
Mark has already picked up a Socceroo cap at the East Asian Cup and is give boss Ange Postecoglou real reason for thought at selecting him as one of the three shot-stoppers to make the cut. Young, with real scope for development, it would be a genuine disappointment not to see Mark Birighitti stepping onto the plane to Brazil.
Whilst the Jets find themselves close to the bottom of the A-League ladder this season, they have had some of the most impressive individual player performances. Adam Taggart is being keyed up as the next big thing to lead the line for the Socceroo’s, and this is for good reason. Taggart is absolute lighting and can pick a finish. Speed, power and finesse, he may be the spark that could back the Socceroo’s a goal off a quick counter attack.
Another Newcastle youngster who has really stirred up a storm in the A-League this season with some scintillating performances and throwing in a few phenomenal finished just to put the icing on the cake. Like his teammate Birighitti, Adam Taggart found himself notching up some caps and goals at the East Asian Cup and has caused reason for another difficult decision for Ange Postecoglou. It really wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Taggart jumping on a flight to Rio.
Sticking with another stand out from the Jets’ this season with Ruben Zadkovich. The tenacious midfielder had jumped through the leagues in England before really flourishing at Newcastle. Hard hitting with exceptional pitch coverage, Ruben could provide the extra engine the Socceroo’s will undoubtedly need against ultra-attacking teams such as Chile.
The Jets’ captain brings his leadership qualities and a clear desire to perform for whatever badge he’s wearing. Zadkovich has proven to be a dynamic player already in his relatively short Socceroo’s career, playing numerous positions at quite a high standard. The last player featured in this section is probably the most quiet achiever of the group. The perfect combination of composure, finesse and brute determination.
Luke Brattan has been a real stand out performer for Brisbane this year. A crucial part of Brisbane’s midfield, Lukey provides an anchor which can’t be compared to another team in the league.
Brattan can go from an exquisite passing game to breaking an opposition leg in a matter of seconds, and that is exactly what we will need against much stronger technical opposition. A hard-hitting brand of football, with the ability to drop a ball in behind backlines for speedy players to connect with. Right now Australia are playing against the fear factor.
Technical teams who are expected to walk all over the Socceroos. It’s time to turn the tables on these teams. With an aggressive brand of football, the Socceroos can turn the fear factor around and cause what are more naturally talented teams to falter and crumble.
The Socceroo’s are in for a difficult time in Brazil, but it would be seriously disappointing to not see these four boys land a ticket to the World Cup. Quality performances in the A-League and providing a real chance to add some genuine quality to the side.
Mark Birighitti, Adam Taggart, Ruben Zadkovich and Luke Brattan should all be serious contenders to move on some of the older Socceroos and bring through a new generation to be nurtured, but most importantly, given opportunity to showcase their talent by Ange Postecoglou.