Behind The Sports Desk: Road to Russia runs through Croatia

BEHIND THE SPORTS DESK: Road to Russia runs through Croatia

FOOTBALL: While many pundits were talking up the potential selection of veteran Socceroos star Tim Cahill before this week, it was actually a man half his age that turned heads following Bert van Marwijk's squad announcement.

Unknown Croatian quantity Fran Karacic has become a late bolter for the Australian World Cup squad after he was selected as a specialist right back.

A position that Australia has struggled with for several years, Karacic offers the perfect selection with both leadership and international experience.

There's just one thing, he has never even stepped foot in the country he is about to represent on the world stage.

Moose and Pottsy go behind the sports desk to ask is it a desperate move from the Socceroos, or is it just the right tonic we need?

MOOSE ELKERTON: To beat the best, we need to be OUR best

RECLUSE Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk finally put football fans out of their misery this week and announced his extended World Cup squad.

But it wasn't the inclusion of Tim Cahill that had everyone talking. It was more the inclusion of a far-less-known name, Fran Karacic.

The Croatian contender could be Australia's next big thing, and most of the country didn't even know he existed before this week.

I am all for the young leader's selection. From all accounts he is talented. He has international experience. He is a captain in a tough-as-nails first division competition. And he is a moulded right back.

We are going to a World Cup, and with each consecutive appearance, our credentials are going up and we need to be able to live up to the expectations on the field.

To do that, we need to be picking our best team possible.

While plenty have said the selection shock reeks of desperation on the part of the Socceroos, there is no denying it is the right choice to make.

Karacic is not alone either.

Out of the initial 32-man squad, only five players come from Australia's own top-flight competition, the A-League.

It is just another nail in the coffin for our national league.

Karacic might not have stepped foot on Australian soil before, but he has already shown his intention to play in the green and gold in Russia.

Hell, if he gets on the field we might be a chance to escape from our pool of death with our hopes still alive.

JARRARD 'POTTSY' POTTER: Picking Karacic is just un-Australian

THE selection of 21-year-old defender Fran Karacic, born in Zagreb and raised in Croatia, in the extended Socceroos squad for this year's World Cup, despite never having set foot in Australia, reads like something from a bad sketch show.

Karacic is in line to wear the green and gold due to the fact his father was born in Australia, and as a result Karacic holds an Australian passport.

Never mind that he has already played for Croatia in their Under 21 team, Karacic has now surprised the achievements of thousands of football players, who have grown up living and playing in Australia, dreaming of one day representing their country. What does the selection of Karacic, who has never been to the country he is in line to represent, say to all of our home-grown talent?

Australians have a great deal of pride in their national teams, no matter the sport. We like our teams to show passion for their sport and their country, and stop at nothing when wearing the green and gold of Australia to do their best. I'm not saying Karacic won't do that, but how does his passion for Australia, a nation he has never physically been to, compare to another player who has grown up and lived here?

One thing that will rub a lot of people up the wrong way is how a player like this can be brought into the team on a technicality. It sets a dangerous precedent for selectors to trawl the world to find players eligible for Australia on a similar technicality.

It's just not Australian.



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