1) Win the 2019 Asian Cup
Australia kicks off their campaign in the UAE starting with Jordan on January 6 followed by Syria and Palestine.
Head coach Graham Arnold expects the Socceroos to win every game and realistically they should easily make it past the group stages. But once they enter the knockout rounds Australia will come up against Asia’s big four in Japan, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
With all four teams performing impressively at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Socceroos will find winning back to back Asian Cups a greater challenge than when they won in 2015. Especially as Australia doesn’t have the benefit of a home ground advantage like it did when it lifted the trophy under Ange Postecoglou.
Even so, expectations are high. An Asian Cup victory would provide Australian football with a much needed feel good story as not only will it qualify for the Confederations Cup, but it will put aside the disappointment of failing to win a game in Russia.
2) Win the bid for the 2023 women’s World Cup
Australia is vying to host the 2023 FIFA’s Women’s World Cup along with New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, Colombia and South Africa.
The official announcement will not be made until March/April 2019. No doubt if Australia is successful it will provide a massive boost to the women’s game and football in general.
Hosting the women’s World Cup will not only give the Matildas a great chance at winning the tournament, but it would have lasting positive ramifications. It would improve football infrastructure, grow women’s participation which is already exploding and lead to a stronger W-League.
3) Win the 2019 women’s World Cup
With a bonafide superstar in Sam Kerr and impressive results against major football nations, the Matildas are arguably Australia’s most loved sporting team.
Australia takes on Italy in their opening group game on July 9, followed by Brazil then Jamaica.
The Matildas are listed sixth in the FIFA rankings behind USA (1) who they defeated in July, and England (4) who they drew with in October.
Neos Kosmos was at the launch of the W-League in October last year and Kerr told the packed media that the result against England bodes well heading into France.
“It was a difficult game but the Aussies did very well to get a tie against the 4th ranked country in the world,” she said.
“Obviously we’ve got a lot to work on but we are on par for where we want to be going into the World Cup.”
Heading into France 2019 it’s no surprise Australia are confident of performing well.
4) Do more than just engage with Asia
Neos Kosmos was in attendance when Postecoglou was in Sydney last month where he gave a speech about the need for the local game to improve its relationship with Asia.
The former Socceroos coach had just finished his first year coaching in the J-League and believes Australian football hasn’t harnessed the region’s love of the game.
“It’s not about engagement with Asia, it’s about their specific countries, their nuances and what they believe in,” he says. “The commonality is that they all love football. But they love it in their own way and we haven’t understood that.
“We have treated it like we have to engage with Asia, when in actual fact they are part of us. There is an arrogance that we are too good for this region and Europe is where we should pitch everything we do, seeking validation from shores afar. I’m saying why?”
5) For Australian football to believe in itself
While in Sydney Postecoglou also spoke about how the game should be wary of putting too much emphasis on FFA being able to fix all the issues facing the game. Instead he feels Australian football should believe in itself.
“Today we are waiting for the Golden Ticket,” he said “We are waiting for a board that is going to come up with something that will save the game, that one little thing. Instead of just believing in our game, being bold in our assertions and the way we talk about it and the decisions we make.”
6) National youth team results to improve
The lack of positive results for Australia’s men’s and women’s national youth teams is alarming.
Only the Joeys (the U-17) will be taking part in a Youth World Cup this year after the men’s U-20 team failed to qualify. When it comes to the women’s team’s results have been also been poor with the U-17’s and U-20’s failing to qualify for World Cups. But there is hope that the new crop of youngsters coming through can change things.
While the W-League is blooding young players it’s a different story in the A-League. In the previous round out of the nine Australian teams only one teenager started. For Australia’s national youth teams to improve, more A-League teams need to be starting young players and the National Youth League needs to play more than just eight games a season.
7) Uniting old soccer and new football
When Football Federation Australia (FFA) announced Western Melbourne Group and Macarthur South West Sydney would join an expanded A-League many former NSL supporters raised more than just an eyebrow. After having been shut out from the top tier since 2004 many ethnic backed clubs are wondering if the game will ever be united.
With FFA Chairman Chris Nikou signalling out Canberra as an attractive opportunity for potential future expansion, one wonders what the future holds for clubs like South Melbourne. Nikou did say the competition will grow beyond 12 teams in the future. Let’s hope that teams that helped build football across the country are included in the new era.
8) Expand the W-League competition
Currently the W-League has nine teams and they only play each other once. This has to change. Not only must the league expand, but they must play each other home and away.
Matilda’s star Sam Kerr plays club football for both Perth Glory and US National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and believes that the W-League could reach the same level if it expands.
“Once we get a home and away season and the season is longer it can definitely repeat that success,” she said, “I’ve played in the US for seven years and I’ve always said teams like Melbourne City and Sydney FC and Perth Glory could compete with teams over there. I don’t think we are far off, we are right there, but it’s still obviously a long way to go.”
9) Announce a timeline for Second Division and Promotion and Relegation
If a timeline can be organised for a system that unites the grass roots to the A-League it would provide a blue print for the future of Australian football.
Rabieh Krayem is the Chairman the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) who represent over 120 NPL clubs from across the country.
The AAFC will be pushing for promotion and relegation when they take a seat on the expanded FFA Congress later this year and Krayem recently stated the second division was coming.
“It’s only a matter of time, the clubs want it to happen and we will ensure that it does by 2020,” he said.