Thursday, 20 October 2011

A-League Training Camp

Holger Osieck and Aurelio Vidmar have called up a 31-man training camp, comprised of potential Olyroos and uncapped senior A-League players. Ostensibly for the older players in the prospective group, this is a chance to stake a claim for a berth in the Socceroos squad during the long and arduous qualification campaign for Brazil 2014. A camp such as this was only a matter of time, with Osieck having held a similiar training event for young Australians in Europe. This initiative is to be applauded as another signal of approval for the A-League from Osieck.

This is the 31-man roster, divided into Olyroos/Socceroos contenders.

Antonis (SYD), Behich (MHT), Brattan (BRI), Gallagher (CCM), Golec (ADE), Halloran (GCU), Hamill (MHT), Hoffman (MHT), Jeggo (MVC), Kantarovski (NEW), McDonald (CCM), Minnicon (GCU), Nichols (BRI), Petratos (SYD), Risdon (PER), Ryan (CCM), Taggart (PER)

GKs: Theoklitos (BRI), Galekovic (ADE)
CBs: Leijer (MVC), Susak (ADE), Smith (BRI), Thwaite (GCU)
FBs: Franjic (BRI), Rose (CCM)
CMs: Caravella (ADE), Griffiths (CCM),  Paartalu (BRI)
FWs: Griffiths (NEW),Thompson (MVC), Williams (MHT)
[14 in all]

PM's additional selections:
McKain (ADE), Wilkinson (CCM), Topor-Stanley (NEW), Beauchamp (SYD),  Marrone (MHT),
Thompson (MHT), Carle (SYD), Emerton (SYD), Kewell (MVC), Porter (GCU)
[10 in all]

The tactical diagram below charts the nominal positions of the senior A-League players invited (white) and those PM believe should have been included (blue).

Wellington is predictably missing, but there are also no representatives from Sydney or Perth.

This list reveals a very interesting short-fall; the lack of Australian natural left wingers in the A-League. Thomas Broich, a German, is far and away the best performer on the left flank in the domestic league. There are no obvious Australian contenders. Perhaps Rose could be deployed as a defensive forward on the left, given his experience at leftback.

Conversely, there is a position with a surfeit of consistent and excellent performers; centre back. Osieck nominated four; Susak, Leijer, Smith and Thwaite, but PM believe that Topor-Stanley, Wilkinson, Beauchamp and McKain are just as deserving of an invitation, which makes for eight potential A-League players for, at best, two berths.

The two fullbacks Rose and Franjic, of all the invitees, would most easily fit into Osieck's existing set-up. Rose operates very similarly on Central Coast's left flank to Carney and Zullo for Australia, overlapping and providing width. Franjic is an aggresive presence on the right, but his attacking threat does not come from crosses, unlike Wilkshire.

Paartalu is the outstanding choice in defensive midfield; he's in a very similiar mould to Jedinak and Valeri. Caravella probably does not have the same quality or range of passing as Kilkenny. PM nominated Matt Thompson in midfield, even though van't Schip deploys him as a centre back.

Williams thoroughly deserves his invitation. He has been an outstanding performer, in a Heart forward line that has at times looked electrifying. Ryan Griffiths is an interesting choice, given his brother Joel possesses a superior goal ratio.

Carle is an interesting omission. He is probably the only Australian who can operate as an orthodox treqaurtista. Osieck's preferred 4-4-2/4-3-3 hybrid relies on Holman as the primary playmaker, and his energetic style pf play is markedly different to Carle's.

Overall, this is a fairly good sample of the best, most consistent and most mature senior talents in the A-League. In PM's opinion, there are several other players who are deserving of an invitation to the training camp. There are also 3 players who have been capped in 2011 who aren't attending the camp; Kewell, Emerton and McKain. The former two are still automatic call-ups, while McKain's situation is less clear.

Players such as Djite and Vidosic should be pushing for invitation. Are there any of your favourites that have missed out? Suggestions welcome in comments below.

Holger's attitude toward the A-League has been exemplary, and can be demonstrated through what he said in an interview with TWG: "It is important for me to support the A-League not just through lip service, but also with action".

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