Why missing Qatar might be best for Socceroos

Socceroo Jackson Irvine is pictured left alongside coach Graham Arnold on the right.

The Socceroos’ hopes of automatic World Cup qualification took a massive hit after a 2-2 draw away to Oman. Pic: Getty

It seems apt and appropriate Football Australia’s online ticketing system broke down just hours after the Socceroos planted another landmine on its now treacherous path to this year’s World Cup.

“As usual, you can’t deliver,” one fan, frustrated at not being able to secure tickets for next month’s qualifier against Japan, wrote.

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The problem will eventually be fixed, we think, but repairing the damage to our national team may take years.

Australia’s disappointing 2-2 draw with Oman has made the task of qualifying automatically for Qatar almost impossible.

It ain’t completely broke – we may beat Japan and Saudi Arabia or somehow make our way through via the third-place play-offs – but there are massive cracks.

Australian football fans may have to prepare to watch a World Cup without their country for the first time since 2006.

We’ve had it so good for so long that qualification has almost been – to steal Uruguayan star Alvaro Recoba’s famous words – a divine right.

Maybe it won’t be such a bad thing to sit this one out and bring about the change needed.

Robbie Slater won’t go that far but he’s angry fans have been deluded into believing we are better than we are.

He told Yahoo Sport Australia: “The decline of the national team has been happening for over a decade.

“We are where we deserve to be. I don’t know why anyone would think our team is better than Japan or Saudi Arabia because we’re not.

“Standards have been slipping for years yet no-one wants to have a good look at the reasons why.

“I’ve never seen the game as divided as it now.”

Those of us old enough to remember the painful 32-year drought between our first and second World Cup campaigns know nothing is certain in football.

The gap between the best and worst is shortening.

Don’t forget four-time winner Italy missed the last World Cup and has a massive task to reach Qatar, placed alongside the likes of Russia, Sweden, Portugal in a tricky European play-off path in March.

Either the Azzuri or Portugal won’t make it…think about that for a minute.

In Asia, the standard is rising and Australia is not keeping pace.

Pictured from left to right, Socceroos trio Mathew Leckie, Milos Degenek and Aaron Mooy during their World Cup qualifier against Oman.

Socceroos trio Mathew Leckie (L), Milos Degenek (C) and Aaron Mooy look dejected after conceding their second goal during World Cup qualifying against Oman. Pic: Getty

Concerns over talent pool in Australia

The talent and depth are simply not there.

Blame coach Graham Arnold all you like – and plenty are – but the problems go much deeper than the block holding the white board.

The A-League is an average competition by world standards and just doesn’t provide the consistent high-level, high-pressure football required.

Technically, many of our players are wanting and get found out when it’s too late to rectify the issue.

Our junior systems are doing the best with what little they’ve got while many young players – or, more to the point, their parents – are being seduced by charlatans dressed in private academy tracksuits.

If it’s got a European or South American name on the equipment van, it must be good, right?

“Our junior coaches, who shape young players, are paid crap so we’re not attracting quality there,” one senior coaching official said.

“Players don’t play enough games at any level, we’ve lost on-field leaders who help manage games in the last 10-15 minutes and we should never have got rid of the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport).

“Making all these World Cups has led to delusions of grandeur.

“This has been coming for a while.”

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