• Bert van Marwijk surprised many (other than the journalists who had been briefed, of course) with the inclusion of Croatian-born Fran Karacic in the 32-man longlist for the World Cup. Ray Gatt says Karacic is a case of the shoe being on the other foot for once naming Josip Simunic, Ante Serie and Joey Didulica (brother of the CEO of the PFA, John), all of whom opted to play for Croatia rather than Australia. 
  • Karacic has never set foot in Australia
  • So who is Karacic? He was born in Zagreb 21 years ago. He's captain of Croatian first division side NK Lokomotiva. And he's eligible to play for Australia because his 54-year-old dad was born in Australia, but hasn't lived here for 51 years. His grandfather lived here for 25 years. More to the point for van Marwijk, he's a right back and we don't have many options at right back. 
  • Just because Karacic hasn't set foot in Australia, doesn't mean he doesn't 'feel' Australian. He is known for wearing a Socceroos shirt to training, according to former teammate, Ivan Vujica, now with Newcastle Jets. There would be very few children of parents from another country who would not have done the same thing, and who would not feel the same tug of the heart strings, even if they haven't ever been there.
  • In an exclusive with the Croatian-speaking David Davutovic, Karacic has committed to Australia if he is selected in the 26-man squad, even though he rejected an overture in June last year. 
  • Daniel Arzani hopes to make it to Russia, but he realises 32 into 23 doesn't go. As much as he'd love to go, he also doesn't want to be the one who goes instead of his hero, Tim Cahill. 
  • Davutovic also tracks how Arzani made it from super sub to Socceroos selection in half-a-season. 
  • As we noted in our news report yesterday on the Socceroos selections, van Marwijk said Cahill is a “special case. He is special in everything. He is 38 and maybe one of the best ever players for Australia.”

A-League Grand Final

  • Roy O'Donovan's case has been referred directly to the FFA Disciplinary and Ethics (sic) Committee for alleged “serious foul play” on Melbourne Victory's Lawrence Thomas in the grand final. Newcastle Jets say O'Donovan's sight was affected by a fractured eye socket. 
  • O'Donovan faces a ban of “at least” five matches, pending what the other committee has to say also. This is assumed because of the fact that the alleged offence has been kicked upstairs for a decision on the length of the ban. O'Donovan will have a chance to plead his case. 
  • As regular readers of these pages will know, Bert van Marwijk was at the grand final and, well, saw it for all its glory and not-so-glorious moments. He says the use of VAR needs to be reviewed before it is introduced at the World Cup in five weeks time. Gulp. Van Marwijk expressed his preference for traditional officiating, accepting that human error happens, but technological error - especially when unavailable for the precise split second of a goal - takes away all the fun things about football. 
  • Proving there's a silver cloud in every lining, overseas leagues who use VAR are wanting to talk with FFA about what went wrong. Well, sort of a silver cloud. And, after an internal review of one day, FFA says they might resort to an “NRL style bunker” - ie. a “centralised VAR with built-in back-up system”. Not sure what difference it will make. 

A-League expansion

  • Southern Exposure, sorry Expansion, have got themselves in the news again having a go at Sydney FC's “poor crowds” in the season just finished and challenging the notion that southern Sydney 'belongs' to the Sky Blues. Southern Expansion's CEO, Chris Gardiner, says the people of southern Sydney are “different” - we can vouch for that - and they don't identify with a club in the eastern suburbs. Sydney FC say they have 5,000 members (from 15,000) from southern Sydney; Gardiner says there are 40,000 registered players in the region.

socceroos, #aleaguegf, var, a-league expansion, fran karacic