World Cup

There's Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Antoine Griezmann ... and then there's VAR. Ray Gatt writes that it's sure to come under scrutiny as it's in use for the first time at this World Cup and if the A-League is anything to go by, it could be a wild month. It has also been trialled in Germany, Italy and Portugal with slightly better, but not that much better, outcomes than locally.

A look at some fans on their way to Russia. We hear from another today, Dr Mark Bowman. 

A short piece from Michael Lynch who notes that France will go through from Group C, but the second spot could be anyone's. Not according to Our New Best Friend, Jose (Mourinho), Michael. He's tipped Australia and we say #YayJose. 


Sunday morning's match against Hungary is a dress rehearsal for the 'real thing' and not an opportunity to try out some players. This is sure to have us up and watching. 

Tom Smithies has much the same thing and says that Mile Jedinak and Tomi Juric (pictured), and perhaps Jackson Irvine, are likely to be the only inclusions in the starting XI. By the way, the News Corp stable has a neat graphic of the team records which we've reproduced below. 

And the same story here in Fairfax too: the focus is on France

Four years after lying on the training ground in Brazil, clearly injured and out of the 2014 World Cup, Tom Rogic is back, fit and in-form, eager to show his stuff on the biggest stage of all. 

It's his fourth World Cup but Mark Milligan has made only one appearance in ten games - injury struck in 2014 - and is happy to be in this squad with a clear role in central defence.

Captain Mile Jedinak says that after “hard lessons in Brazil”, the Socceroos want results at this World Cup. Having travelled so far, and fought so long, to make it, Jedinak does not want to say “chin up” to the players as they head into their final match at the tournament.  

Daniel Arzani was urged by his dad - a medical practitioner - to have a heart check when Chris Naumoff was diagnosed with a heart condition after a routine check-up a few years ago. Young Daniel, who had school results good enough to get into Medicine, said he didn't want to because if he died of heart trouble he wanted to do so on a football field. Uh-oh, said the parents. That makes it clear where young Daniel's heart lies (so to speak), who went on to the AIS under Tony Vidmar, returned to his home town to join Sydney FC where he was ultimately cut by Graham Arnold because his 'style' wasn't wanted, and then picked-up by Melbourne City. And here we are. 19 years of age and the youngest player at Russia 2018. Good read from Dominic Bossi. 

When it comes to playing France in the first game, remember Germany in 2010, writes Gatt. Never has there been so much angst in a result and so much panning of the coach, Pim Verbeek, who went into the game with a “defeatist attitude”, playing some players out of position and not playing attacking players at all. We can't do it again. 

Former high performance manager with the Socceroos, Dr Darren Burgess (now with Arsenal), rates the Socceroos chances because they're resilient physically and always up for it in terms of attitude. He notes that, compared with England, where players see their club as number one, Australian players see the national team as number one. 

Bert van Marwijk

“He was quite a poser and had an attitude. He was always complaining, the field was too hard and the tea was too warm,” says a former team mate of Bert van Marwijk.

Jacquelin Magnay visits van Marwijk's home town of Deventer, in north-west Netherlands, where there is a square named in his honour. She delves into his football background and learns that he was seen as a gifted player who wasn't that motivated, and who was almost rejected by Go Ahead Eagles because he was too much of a hot-tempered tear-away - as opposed to being the “calmest person in the room” today. She explains that this short-term role is perfect for him - not to mention for FFA's grand plans for Graham Arnold - because he really would like to be home enjoying time with his sport-loving grandchildren. Van Marwijk is a realist but is also optimistic and hopes to make it into the second stage. 

It was revealed yesterday by Dominic Bossi in the Fairfax press, and repeated this morning by News Corp, that van Marwijk is paying for his own backroom staff out of his own pocket. He may have eschewed a farewell friendly, but they make the point also that that is not something someone does who is not committed to the task. 

A-League expansion

Australia's football statistician, Andrew Howe, believes “it doesn't seem right” that Canberra doesn't have an A-League team, simply on the basis of what he's really good at - numbers. He was talking with the Canberra Times ahead of today's launch event of the Encyclopedia of Socceroos at Muse of Canberra at 4pm

No surprise here that local boy Brett Emerton is behind the Macarthur (Campbelltown) bid for the A-League. 

John Stensholt takes a long look at the billionaires and multi-millionaires wanting to invest in the A-League, including (as we noted yesterday) property billionaire Lang Walker (Macarthur/Campbelltown), Southern Expansion (Chinese Shen Yuxing), Team 11 (Dandenong) is fronted by Gerry Ryan and Tasmania by Harry Stamoulis. 

Youth development

After seeing almost twenty Socceroos who had played at Adelaide City assembled for the Adelaide launch of Andrew Howe's Encyclopedia of Socceroos on Wednesday night, Val Migliaccio takes aim at youth development in South Australia saying it's nothing but a “cash cow” for academies and the state is not producing the players it once did. South Australia was once regarded as a “talent factory” but is now not producing players who play at the highest level - the omission of James Troisi from the Socceroos being a sore point. 

From News Corp 

socceroos, 2018 world cup, #russia2018, bert van marwijk, a-league expansion, football development