Joeys aim to demonstrate new Aussie philosophy
Australia are undergoing a period of regeneration across many areas of the game. Their recent 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ squad was a case in point, with the roster one of the youngest in the tournament compared to the second-oldest in the tournament four years earlier in South Africa. But the renewal is not just limited to playing personnel. There is a new mentality sweeping the game Down Under and Tony Vidmar says his side aim to demonstrate their fresh approach at next year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile.
Much like the Socceroos against the Netherlands at Brazil 2014, the philosophy centres around taking the game to the opposition regardless of the opponent’s status. Vidmar is part of a new breed of former Socceroos in important coaching roles. Older brother Aurelio is the national U-23 coach, former national team skipper Paul Okon manages the U-20 team, while there is a similar trend in the A-League, with AFC Champions League-winning coach Tony Popovic a headline example.
Attack the best form of defence The 2015 U-17 World Cup may be still 11 months away, but Vidmar is clear in his vision for the team. “We want to play the brand of football we want to play,” Vidmar tells FIFA.com. “We want to be proactive in possession, and also when we don’t have the ball.
“We feel that winning is a part of the development process. We don’t want to resort to the way of some teams, which is to sit back and await mistakes. We don’t want to compromise our (brand of) football to get the result.”
The latter comment, Vidmar says, was an experience his team have already dealt with. The Joeys were eliminated on penalties in the recent Asian qualifiers by a defence-orientated Korea DPR at the semi-final stage. The pair, along with Korea Republic and Syria, will be Asia’s representatives at Chile 2015.
“We want the players to make decisions and be responsible on the field, so we are aiming to guide them in that way. That is a lot of demands on the players, but I think that is something they are starting to grow into.”
Long wait for World Cup experience For Vidmar it will be a long-awaited first-hand experience at a World Cup. Although enjoying a 15-year 76-cap international career, he agonisingly missed the 2006 FIFA World Cup after being discovered with a heart complaint on the eve of Germany 2006. Now Vidmar, who assumed the team’s reins last year, has the chance to make a different kind of impression at a global event.
With new development programmes taking shape around the country, Vidmar has a key role in the nation’s rapidly changing football culture. “This is the first group of players that have come through our full time skill acquisition programme,” he says. “In a way these players are the pioneers, and we hope they will be the next group of Socceroos in six or seven years.
“The senior national team has been in transition as well. At the moment we don’t have a big pool of (senior) players to select from, but we aim to change that and be a force in international football.”
Australia have a proud tradition at youth World Cups, including a runners-up finish at the U-17 event in 1999. However, Vidmar is reluctant to set a goal for what his side will achieve in Chile, but rather his focus is trained elsewhere. “It is about displaying our brand of football that is going to be there for the national team down the track. Our aim is to put in a performance that we can be proud of.”