The ‘I was made in the A-League’ commercials are fantastic for two reasons.
One, they are a slick presentation of some important players in our Socceroos set up and secondly, they remind us all of the pride we should feel, knowing that our local structures are capable of producing quality players.
Aaron Mooy’s recent success and promotion to the Premier League should resonate with all Australian football fans. His football journey is a local one, similar to those of Tim Cahill, Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell whose basic skillsets were born on our shores.
Sure, recent history hasn’t seen quite the same number of locally bred talent garner world football’s interest as the players of the ‘golden generation’ did, however, this is hopefully a cyclical phenomena.
As the Socceroos dominate the Australian football consciousness at present and the plight of the manager steals away headlines from the vital upcoming clash with Honduras, young A-League talents dream of staking their claim on future national team honours.
I have thrown together a team that I would love to see have a crack at the Socceroos.
Are they a little underrated, raw and made to look more impressive in our league than perhaps they really are? Or is Ange Postecoglou underestimating their talent and through their non-selection, denying them a chance to grow, learn and improve?
Either way, I would love to see them play the national team and some comparisons drawn.
1. Goalkeeper – Paul Izzo (Adelaide United)
The 22-year-old Adelaide custodian is building a reputation as one of Australia’s best young ‘keepers. After impressing in his forty-two matches with the Central Coast, Izzo has returned home hoping to become the Adelaide number one.
Capped thirty times at restricted age level for his country, he must surely be a candidate for the national set-up moving forward.
2. Right-back – Thomas Deng (Melbourne Victory)
The Kenyan born defender impressed enough people with his 2015-16 performances for the Victory that he ventured abroad. A disappointing year on loan which ultimately produced five appearances in Holland, saw Deng return to Melbourne. While raw, there are signs to suggest that if his poise and decision making improve enough to match his natural athletic ability, he could develop into a valuable asset for the Socceroos in the future.
3. Centre-back – Luke DeVere (Brisbane Roar)
While DeVere is a little older than many members of this squad, at twenty-seven, he still has much to offer. A tall intimidating figure with eleven junior caps for Australia and one full international friendly against Germany, his talent has been recognised previously. Others have taken hold of his position in the current team, yet DeVere would and still may, stand up well if given another chance in international football.
4. Centre-back – Jason Geria (Melbourne Victory)
While I am playing Geria out of position here, the twenty-four year old deserves a spot in this team of potential Socceroos. Much like his ally Deng, his physical prowess will serve him well. His senior debut came in a friendly against Greece in 2016 and indicated his presence on the radar of the powers at be.
Twenty-eight caps at junior level further highlight his well respected pedigree.
5. Left-back – Josh Brillante (Sydney FC)
With significant injuries in the Sydney FC defence during their Championship season of 2016/17, Brillante was forced to cover defensive positions rather than his usual holding spot in the mid-field. He did it with aplomb and his development as a footballer has been consistent.
Despite a somewhat disappointing time in Italy, the 24-year-old has achieved five senior caps on top of his twenty-eight at junior level yet fell from favour during his time overseas. His talent suggests there may be another chance in the future.
6. Mid-field – Trent Buhagiar (Central Coast Mariners)
The youngest member of this squad at nineteen, Buhagiar continues to impress on the Central Coast. A true local boy, he has already been capped twice at under 23 level for Australia and one would think that an overseas venture might lay ahead at some stage for a player blessed with his skill and speed.
7. Mid-field – Brandon O’Neill (Sydney FC)
Something of an unsung hero at Sydney FC and one of its most reliable workers in the midfield. Still only twenty-three, O’Neill possesses a wonderful dead-ball strike and rarely appears flustered in the melee that the centre of the park can often become.
With two caps for the Olyroos, he is undoubtedly one of the players that is expected to take further steps forward as he matures. Another player most likely to end up overseas at some point.
8. Mid-field – Luke Brattan (Melbourne City)
I love watching Luke Brattan play, as he approaches the game with a ferocious intensity that all busy footballers do.
While a little more experienced than some of the other members of this bunch, the attention he drew from Manchester City after his time in Brisbane and his eventual purchase, clearly depicts the talent he possesses.
Capped eight times at under 20 level, Brattan has been called up to the senior squad on one occasion for the qualifier against Bangladesh. There is potential for future caps.
9. Forward – Peter Skapetis (Brisbane Roar)
Still only twenty-two, the one thing Skapetis needs is a good block of football at a high level to showcase his talents. Still a bit untested, it will be interesting to see how much the young Roar recruit can achieve in a team that needs goal production this season. His age restricted junior representation for Australia suggests he is a true goal scorer and the biggest challenge might be his dual citizenship status.
10. Forward – Andrew Nabbout (Newcastle Jets)
Another one of my favourites, Nabbout has developed his game immensely from his days at Melbourne Victory where his chances were restricted.
The twenty-four year old spent a season in Malaysia before returning to Australia and he looks to have found a happy home in Newcastle.
Blessed with a superb work ethic, Nabbout has set his sights on national selection and with more development and a refreshed Newcastle roster aiding his claims, the famous gold shirt is not beyond this young man.
11. Forward – Adam Taggart (Perth Glory)
Like both Nabbout and Brattan, watching Taggart is a personal favourite hobby of mine. Unfortunately, he is another Australian whose overseas adventures and injuries have not permitted consistent football and the chance to express his true talent.
Not yet twenty-five, Taggart is a ‘goal every other game’ man for the Glory and despite playing seven times for the Socceroos early in his career, potentially before being ready, the ship may not have sailed on his international career.
Both Lawrence Thomas and Nick Fitzgerald were two others who would fit into this collection of players. Both twenty-five and capped at the junior levels, Thomas and Fitzgerald’s contributions to their team’s fortunes could still see them in the frame for future national honours.
A wonderful collection of A-League players I am sure you will agree and an interesting clash against the Socceroos it would be.
A chance for these youngsters and fringe players to appear either inferior to the current squad or raise questions about their future inclusion.