The Socceroos begin life under new head coach Ange Postecoglou with a friendly against Costa Rica at Allianz Stadium on Tuesday night. Postecoglou takes the reigns at what is arguably the lowest ebb that the Socceroos have been at in a decade. Memories of the dramatic night in Sydney when world cup qualification was secured against Iraq have been somewhat erased by back to back 6-0 losses to Brazil and France.
The anticipated changes to the squad have already begun. In the case of Mark Schwarzer it is by choice of the player, while other regulars under previous coach Holger Osieck such as Luke Wilkshire and Sasa Ognenovski have been overlooked for this squad.
Lucas Neill has been retained as captain, somewhat surprisingly given the amount of scrutiny placed on him in recent months. Postecoglou is possibly trying to avoid fanning the flames of a volatile subject so early in his reign, and with the next game several months away it is a decision he can spend more time thinking over once this game is out of the way.
Looking around social media it is fair to say that Postecoglou is getting a fair amount of criticism for retaining Neill. However, it may actually be a very clever move by the new coach. If things work out for the best and the captain plays well then Postecoglou will take credit for his choice. If Neill plays badly then the coach then has the justification to wield the axe without having to stand accused of bowing to pressure from fans and the media.
Socceroos fans will want to see a positive display regardless of the result – within reason of course. Postecoglou has made his name in the A-League on the back of up tempo attacking football, and this is what Australia will be demanding of their national team. Costa Rica will be no pushover and have plenty of exciting attacking talent in their ranks. They too have secured a spot in Brazil at the World Cup, and this game perhaps represents a more realistic test of where the Socceroos are at as they prepare for Brazil 2014.
Tuesday 19th November, Allianz Stadium Moore Park 19:30
Australia v Costa Rica