ANGE Postecoglou declared that 2017 will test the progress of his Socceroos, after Brazil was the latest blockbuster added to the schedule.
The Socceroos boss said there would be little room for experimentation, as they juggle high-stakes World Cup qualifiers against UAE, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Japan with some mega Confederations Cup duels.
The Socceroos host Brazil at the MCG on June 13 before departing for Russia the next day, where they’ll tackle Germany, Chile and Cameroon.
On Thursday Football Federation Australia pulled Postecoglou from the press conference to unveil the clash after a sponsorship wrangle, though the fixture is not in any doubt. But speaking prior to the announcement, Postecoglou said it was a big year for his maturing team.
“We’ve got some big games with some big consequences,’’ Postecoglou said. “In terms of progress both for the teams and the individuals, this year will be the measure of that.
“I don’t think it’s a new faces kind of year. This year’s the most important year in the World Cup cycle because you’re going into the last sort of, a whether you qualify or not.
“And that last 12 months before a World Cup where you get a good number of games and with the Confeds Cup a good number of experiences within that.
“Our trial period of players and everything has happened in the last two years, since the Asian Cup.
“This year will be about hopefully consolidating a group of players and hopefully reaping the rewards of the hard work we’ve done so far. That’s not to exclude anyone breaking through.’’
Postecoglou was Melbourne Victory coach when Australia was thumped 6-0 away to Brazil in October 2013, but he replaced Holger Osieck a month later after another 6-0 thumping from France.
Since he’s overhauled the squad with many playing their first full qualifying campaigns.
“We spent a lot of time last year developing some of our players who for a lot of them it was their first World Cup qualifying experience,’’ he said.
“So we put a lot of time into guys like (Mat) Ryan, (Trent) Sainsbury, (Massimo) Luongo, (Aaron) Mooy, (Tom) Rogic. Even somebody like a (Mat) Leckie who this is kind of their first full-blooded World Cup qualifying experience.
“We wanted to make sure that they got as much game time over the last 12 months knowing we had some tough trips in there.
“While you don’t know what sort of progress they make, that will be judged by how they go this year, having been through what they went through last year.’’