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‘Give Spira A Fair Run’ (FourFourTwo)

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Daniel Phan
Aug 11 2009 00:38

EXCLUSIVE: Former Australian Youth coach Ange Postecoglou has backed Matthew Spiranovic to start alongside Lucas Neill in the heart of the Australian back-line

Postecoglou is adamant that the young stopper is ripe for the job given his European club pedigree and needs to be fully blooded ahead of next year’s World Cup

Australian coach Pim Verbeek remains undecided on a permanent partner for Lucas Neill in defence despite several candidates staking reasonable claims with solid performances in recent outings.

But Postecoglou urged Verbeek to play Matthew Spiranovic – yet to appear for Australia in 2009 – and stick with him as the ideal candidate for the centreback role formerly occupied by Craig Moore.

“I don’t think any of Lucas Neill’s partners in defence have been overly convincing for a definite ticket to the World Cup,” Postecoglou told au.fourfourtwo.com.

“Chris Coyne, Michael Beauchamp, Mark Milligan and Jade North have all been given their opportunities and performed admirably but it may be time to test other options.

“I would like to see Spiranovic partner Neill for three or four games and see how that goes.”

Spiranovic, 21, recently signed a contract extension with German side FC Nürnberg  but has not appeared for Australia since the loss against China in 2008, although he was part f the squad for June’s match against Japan.

“He’s been on the fringes for awhile and he just needs to play and prove himself,” said Postecoglou. “He plays regularly in a strong European league, which shows that he is at a high enough playing level.”

Postecoglou, currently serving as technical director of Victorian state club Whittlesea Zebras, praised Verbeek for securing Australia’s second successive World Cup finals appearance.

He backed the Dutchman to maintain his defensive 4-2-3-1 playing style which took the team to South Africa 2010.

“We are only twelve months out from the World Cup and it is very important that Pim sticks to his most comfortable and effective approach – the system he currently employs with two holding midfielders and a lone striker up front,” he said.

“There are slight changes to be made, Australia cannot head to the World Cup and expect to progress through the group stages by sitting back and letting teams attack us.”

Postecoglou is keen to see Viduka return to the international fold and lead the attacking line.

He added: “I am hoping that Mark makes the decision to play on, if he does and performs for the majority of the following season then I think it would be absurd for anyone to ignore him.

“Australia has fantastic attacking midfielders in Cahill, Bresciano and Kewell who would benefit from Mark’s hold-up play and goal scoring qualities.”

“In terms of quality, he is the best option for the lone striking role in Pim’s side.”

But while he was full of praise for Verbeek’s results, he played down the FIFA ranking which currently rates the Socceroos as 16th overall.

“Anyone involved in football in this country will know that Australia is obviously not the 16th best footballing nation in the world,” he said.

“But from a global and corporate perspective it is very important. It shows the world that Australia is improving as a football nation,

“In terms of results, regardless of the quality of the opposition, Australia has been first class and the ranking is a way of signalling Australia’s arrival on the football forefront.”

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