7 weeks untill Socceroos team against Kuwait named
THE Socceroos kick off the Asian Cup against Kuwait in Melbourne on January 9, and with the last friendly out of the way, coach Ange Postecoglou has a little more than seven weeks to decide who will be in his starting line-up for one of the biggest games of next year.
Speculation will be rife about who should be in and who should not make the XI for the opener, so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and pick my team to face Kuwait.
I would go with a 4-3-3 formation with the two wingers dropping in to help defensively when needed.
Goalkeeper - Mat Ryan: The Club Brugges stopper has been Postecoglou's first-choice gloveman since his tenure began, and I see nothing changing there.
Right back - Ivan Franjic: I am still not sure about his defensive qualities, but Franjic is the most experienced defender Postecoglou has. He also brings some good attacking options and is comfortable on the ball.
Centre-half - Matt Spiranovic: Injury is the only thing that can keep the Western Sydney Wanderers defender out of the starting line-up for the first game. He has impressed with his calmness and assuredness on the ball, above all else.
Centre-half - Alex Wilkinson: Is in top form and also has been consistent, helping his club side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors take out the K-League title in South Korea recently. Is prone to the odd mistake, but his commitment cannot be doubted.
Left back - Aziz Behich: Now playing regularly for Turkish side Bursaspor and that showed with his performance against Japan in Osaka. He handled one of the best players in the world - Keisuke Honda - reasonably well and also looked comfortable going forward.
Right wing/midfield - Robbie Kruse: Just like Spiranovic, only injury will keep him out of the starting line-up against Kuwait. Has pace and drive that can hurt defenders.
Defensive midfield - Mile Jedinak: Second name on the teamsheet, and the captain. His passing is key to how the Socceroos play. Get it right and they will perform well at the Asian Cup.
Defensive midfield - Matt McKay: This was the hardest position to pick for me with Mark Milligan also a standout. But McKay gets the nod as his passing skills are a bit better.
Left wing/midfield - Matthew Leckie: His pace can destroy teams, but he has to be more ruthless when on goal. Add regular goals to his game and he becomes almost the complete package.
Attacking midfield - Mark Bresciano: This tournament is likely to be Bresciano's swansong, so there is no point sitting him on the bench. Could be the difference between a top showing or a poor one.
Striker - Tim Cahill: The first name on the teamsheet if free of injuries. The Socceroos' best player by a country mile and will be looking to go out with a bang. If he's fit, I expect Cahill to shine on home soil.