PLENTY TO PONDER: Ange Postecoglou has some thinking to do ahead of next January’s Asian Cup.
PLENTY TO PONDER: Ange Postecoglou has some thinking to do ahead of next January’s Asian Cup. GETTY IMAGES

Time right for coach to stick to his guns

THE time for experimenting is over.

The Socceroos have just one more game before their Asian Cup campaign kicks off at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Friday, January 9 against Kuwait, and at the moment I am not sure whether coach Ange Postecoglou knows just what his best team is for that important game.

Postecoglou needs to have that team set in his mind for the friendly clash in Osaka at the Nagai Stadium on November 18 against old rival Japan, and select that team.

I am all for giving players a chance to stake their claim, but sadly I think some of those players who have been given an opportunity recently now have to take a back seat. The coach must have a set system in his mind by now, and must also know which of the players he has given a chance to over the past few games are the ones he can trust to get the job done in the Asian Cup.

Make no bones about it, this is a vitally important tournament for Postecoglou and the Socceroos.

I would go as close as saying it's career defining for the coach.

He was on a hiding to nothing at the World Cup with the quality of sides he was pitted against.

To be fair, his players did all they could against Chile and the Netherlands and on another day might have been able to get positive results against both those sides.

But defensive frailties were shown up against Spain, and those have been highlighted more and more over the past 10 games in which the Socceroos have lost seven, drawn two and won only once - a scratchy 3-2 victory over Saudi Arabia.

Speaking after the defeat to Qatar, a team ranked 96th in the world, Socceroos talisman Tim Cahill said now was the time to get things right.

"We've really got to stand up now and embrace what's happening," Cahill, the Socceroos greatest-ever goal-scorer said.

"We can make mistakes now, in the Asian Cup we can't."

Cahill is right about standing up now, but I don't really think players can afford to be making mistakes in any game if they have designs on winning the Asian Cup.

Football fans across Australia are expecting big things from the Socceroos despite the recent poor run.

Reaching the final is really the least Postecoglou and his team should aim for and they should be really seriously looking to take the trophy.

If they do struggle on home soil next January, then Postecoglou can expect another inquisition and maybe, just maybe, he will have to fall on his sword.

Only time will tell.

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