The road is long with many a winding turn, that leads to Russia. Should the Socceroos get over Honduras in the upcoming World Cup qualifying play-off, it will have played 22 games to qualify, which will be a record for any nation trying to qualify for the World Cup.
Although it isn’t a record the Socceroos had in mind when they set out on this campaign, coach Ange Postecoglou can see the benefit of such a long campaign.
“You don’t always want to take the longest route but the experiences gained along the way have been good for this group,” the Caltex Socceroos boss said.
“We’ve travelled far and wide, we’ve had to deal with all sorts of conditions both on and off the pitch and for the most part the players have handled it very well and have grown every time we’ve gone through that sort of process.
“It’s felt like a really long campaign and it obviously has been but when you get to the crucial stage and the big games such as now you kind of want to know that the players already have an idea of what it’s going to be like.
“We’ve certainly experienced that through this two-and-a-half years.”
Postecoglou announced a 25 man squad for the two legged final Wold Cup qualifying play-offs beginning in Honduras next week. Instead of the usual 23 man squad for these World Cup qualifiers, he has included an extra two players to cover for the suspended Mark Milligan and Matthew Leckie who will both miss the trip to Honduras for the first leg. Skipper Mile Jedinak and James Jeggo have been added to the squad so that Postecoglou can take the full complement of 23 players to Honduras. Norwegian-based defender Alex Gersbach also earns a recall in place of the injured Brad Smith.
Media interest in Tuesday’s squad announcement and the actual games in Honduras took second place to questions from a press gallery more eager for news from the coach himself about his future rather that the Honduras qualifiers.
“No, not really,” he said in response to one reporter’s question of whether he knows in his own mind what he’ll do.
Postecoglou added that he had no intention to tell the players in Honduras what his future plans were.
“No, my future is not why they’re there. They’re there to represent their country. All along I’ve said that no one’s guaranteed anything. All we’re guaranteed is we’ve got two weeks together as a group to try and get our country to another World Cup and beyond that, no one’s guaranteed anything including me”.
Goalkeepers: Mitchell Langerak (Levante, Spain), Mat Ryan (Brighton, England), Danny Vukovic (Genk, Belgium).
Defenders: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor, Turkey), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F Marinos, Japan), Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg, Norway), Matthew Jurman (Suwon, South Korea), Ryan McGowan (Al Sharjah, UAE), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney), Trent Sainsbury (Jiangsu Suning, China), Bailey Wright (Bristol City, England).
Midfielders: Craig Goodwin (Sparta Rotterdam, Netherlands), Jackson Irvine (Hull City, England), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa, England), James Jeggo (Sturm Graz, Austria), Massimo Luongo (QPR, England), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory)*, Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town, England), Tom Rogic (Celtic, Scotland), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory)
Forwards: Tim Cahill (Melbourne City), Tomi Juric (Luzern, Switzerland), Robbie Kruse (Bochum, Germany), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin, Germany)*, Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa, Israel).
* Milligan and Leckie are suspended for the away leg.
Game one (away): Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Friday, November 10, 4pm local (Saturday, November 11, 9am AEDT)
Game two (home): ANZ Stadium, Sydney. Wednesday, November 15, 8pm local/AEDT