A closer look at the young Socceroos

Months since the aftermath of the under-20 World Cup fans are still unsure how to articulate how they feel.

A debate has ensued online: substance v style. Before moving forward young Socceroos boss Paul Okon was quoted saying in 2009: “Style is definitely a component, but the aim is to get results. There’s no point playing great football but not qualifying or having success,” he said.

The words of a man who not long ago said patience is needed at youth level. Yes, but we need to find a mixture. There’s no point of playing aesthetically pleasing football without a winning mentality, a level of pragmatism must come into coaching. At the end of the day we’re playing in a competition and not a beauty contest.

Not to sound overly cynical but in hindsight (which is a beautiful thing) we fawned over the young Socceroos. We created a side in our minds that could never realistically live up to expectations. And that was after one game.

Our football savant Craig Foster waxed lyrically about the performance against Colombia. Apparently now the National Curriculum works and we’re going to become the next Spain. Ok now, to be fair he didn’t go that far.

However, the point is we jumped the gun. Australian football fans are searching for a new golden generation, dare I say a greater one.

Looking closely at selection in the young Socceroos it was A-League heavy, which isn’t a bad thing, unless some of the players selected are playing National Youth League. Quick comparison, what’s the greater football level: Australia’s National Youth League or Italy’s Primavera? I think we both know the answer.

Australian David Magrone who heads up Tottenham Hotspurs European scouting network recently spoke to  SBS – The World Game ©.

“When you overlook players of the quality of Giancarlo [Gallifuoco] and also Mustafa Amini, you have to ask a few questions.

“If [Giancarlo] isn’t good enough for that team then I don’t know who is. He’s been training with Tottenham’s first team pre-season and he’s a quality technical midfielder.

“Then you have a player like Amini at Borussia Dortmund not even making the squad – it just makes no sense.

“If you had Giancarlo in the middle of the park and Amini further forward, that Young Socceroos team would have been transformed.

”The strange thing is Giancarlo was involved at under-17 level and Okon was calling him up all the time – then nothing.”

A controversial decision by Paul Okon in hindsight, as Hagi Gligor surely doesn’t supersede the likes of Mustapha Amini, Chris Ikonomidis and Giancarlo Gallifuoco.

Magrone, who’s expertise is to scout high quality players, believes the selection process is flawed at all ages.

“Take the example of Massimo [Luongo] (aged 20). He’s good enough to play in the Socceroos midfield now alongside Mark Bresciano with his eyes shut, let alone any of the younger age groups.

“It’s my job to look around and select and find players. The system Australia’s youth teams has in place is flawed. It’s not just down to Okon, this has happened regime after regime,” he said.

Perhaps, the National Curriculum Craig Foster lauded during the under-20 World Cup wasn’t so great after all. Maybe we need to work harder and look farer for our players.

Why don’t we have experts like David Magrone assist in our pursuit of top talented Australians? Or risk what Magrone fears: “Something needs to be done or we’re going to stay lagging behind the rest of the world.”

Ahmed’s the sole writer of the soon to be critically acclaimed Young Roos. He’s on Twitter too, @ahmedyussuf10. Give him a follow.

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