Osieck needs to take risks

WELL, there you go. It wasn't that hard, was it? Nor that painful.

Hopefully now that he has tried several fresh faces and seen that the sky won't fall down, Holger Osieck will be tempted to continue blooding some new-look Socceroos, giving youngsters a go and seeing how they fare.

Especially in games such as Wednesday night's friendly against South Korea when, despite what some might try to suggest, the result was really immaterial.

The first-half performance wasn't that flash, to be honest, and when the host – which had lost at home only once in 27 years – took an early lead, it looked as though the night could get ugly for Holger's experimental heroes.

But they showed plenty of character and that essential quality often demonstrated by youngsters and older players given a shot at Socceroo redemption – verve and commitment – to claw their way back into the game and finally win it through the efforts of unlikely hero Robbie Cornthwaite, a man no one thought likely to come under the coach's radar in the near future.

He wouldn't have, of course, had there not been a spate of injuries and had he not been Johnny on the Spot who happened to be playing his club soccer in South Korea and was therefore available at a moment's notice to join the squad.

But of such serendipitous happenings legends are made.

Whether Cornthwaite ever figures again is a matter for conjecture, but the record books won't lie and his name will forever be etched as the man who grabbed the Australian tyros a surprise win against a South Korean team, which was also a pretty experimental line-up.

So credit to Osieck for finally taking the plunge and trying out some lesser-known talents. As Guus Hiddink showed to (mainly) wonderful effect in his brief sojourn as Socceroo boss, you can be the greatest tactical coach in the world and the greatest motivator who ever brandished a hair dryer in the dressing room, but if you don't have a gambler's instinct and the guts to take some risks you probably won't succeed in the long run.

Having said that, was this a game in which Osieck might perhaps have been even bolder? I would argue so.

Lucas Neill is suspended for the next World Cup qualifier, so why play him here? Mark Schwarzer is an icon of the Australian game and while he is playing in the EPL and doing as well as he is, he will always be the Socceroos' No. 1. So why not have a look at someone else when the scorelines didn't really matter?

Michael Thwaite has always been a fan favourite. His competitiveness and attitude to the game – he always seems to play with a smile on his face – could be adopted by many of his contemporaries and his performances in recent seasons in the A-League justified his recall.

We all know he is very versatile, but why start with him at left-back when a specialist attacking full-back in Aziz Behich was sitting on the bench awaiting his first cap?

Thwaite didn't look too comfortable deployed in a wide area and he might have been better served playing in central defence, giving Behich the chance to show his stuff from the start.

Mathew Ryan has been one of the outstanding A-League goalkeepers in recent seasons. He is a young man whose education would be developed by at least a taste of international soccer. Surely he could have had the chance to play a half?

Still, it was great to see the likes of Tomas Rogic, the languid Central Coast attacking midfielder, and the equally gawky Eli Babalj – these days of Red Star Belgrade but, like Behich, a youngster who shone last season for Melbourne Heart – get their chance. Tommy Oar confirmed the decent impression he has made in the past and Nikita Rukavytsya finally looked convincing with a really well-taken goal.

All of a sudden the future is looking a little brighter.

The Young Socceroos might have lost 0-2 overnight in their Asian Under-19 Cup semi-final to Iraq, but they have given a glimpse of their potential. Young players are starting to have a bigger impact on the A-League and, given opportunities, they can only improve.

Having had the taste, it's up to those who were involved now to show why Osieck should no longer ignore them.

This story Osieck needs to take risks first appeared on The Age.