Football: Postecoglous says Socceroos ready for final World Cup hurdle

FOCUSED: Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou was a special guest at a Men of Football fundraising dinner at Merewether Surfhouse on Wednesday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

FOCUSED: Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou was a special guest at a Men of Football fundraising dinner at Merewether Surfhouse on Wednesday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

ANGE Postecoglou has received good reports on Lachlan Jackson, Nick Cowburn and Devante Clut and says the framework is there for the Jets trio to progress from the Olyroos to the senior national team.

But right now Postecoglou’s focus is purely on the current crop of Socceroos and the make-or-break World Cup qualifiers away to Japan (August 31) and against Thailand in Melbourne (September 5).

“These are the two crucial ones,” Postecoglou said on Wednesday in Newcastle where he was the special guest at a Men of Football dinner. “We know if we win both games we will be going to the World Cup. We have been working for three years to get to this point. Nothing is going to happen in the last two weeks that will change that dramatically. We have done the work and I think the players are ready.”

Newcastle has a rich history of producing Socceroos. However, not one of the 30-man squad named Monday has ties to the region. The most recent were former Jets Adam Taggart, Josh Brillante and Mark Birighitti, who hail from elsewhere. It is a situation that Postecoglou is confident will change.

“I guess it starts with the Jets, and hopefully they have a better year, get back up into the finals and provide some inspiration,” he said. “We know there are boys and girls who are talented in the region and want an opportunity. If they see one or two breaking through, guys like Olyroos Lachlan Jackson, Devante Clut and Nick Cowburn, hopefully that gives encouragement for younger ones.”

Postecoglou said Olyroos coach Josep Gombau was impressed with the Jets youngsters at the successful under-23 Asian Cup qualifying campaign last month.

“The reports that I got back from Josep were that all three boys did quite well, particularly Lachlan Jackson,” he said. We are always looking for young guys coming through. I have shown over the past few years, if you play well and perform consistently in the A-League, it gives you an opportunity to be in the Socceroos frame.”

Postecoglou “keeps tabs” on all A-League teams and likes the roster Ernie Merrick is assembling.

“The key thing is recruitment, and they look like they have recruited some strong players, players who have already established their credentials in the A-League,” he said. “And they certainly have an experienced coach, which will help.”

Postecoglou was involved in Scott Miller landing the job as Jets coach when the club was controlled by Football Federation Australia. Miller was axed one year into a two year deal after a fallout with new owner Martin Lee.

“I thought Scotty was a young coach who showed some real ambition and was very resourceful,” said Postecoglou, who remains in contact with the Norway-based Miller. “It didn’t work out but his coaching journey is continuing. If people ask my opinion I try and steer them the right way, then it is up to the individual and the club to see if it can work.”

More 250 people attended the Men of Football function.

“There is a great deal of passion for football in this part of the world,” Postecoglou said. “Men of football is a great cause and one I’m happy to support.”

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