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Three Big Socceroos Questions Now We've Made The World Cup

Oh, only the players, the coach and the playing style. No biggies.

15/11/2017 11:28 PM AEDT | Updated 15/11/2017 11:28 PM AEDT
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The Socceroos' win over Honduras on Wednesday night was everything that a FIFA World Cup qualification should be -- powerful, impressive and emotional.

And even though Australians everywhere will be endlessly celebrating this moment, some serious questions remain over the future of Australian football following what was the Socceroos' toughest and longest FIFA World Cup qualification period since 2005.

It took Australia 884 days and 22 matches to officially qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and there were moments over that time where many fans, heads held in hands, were simply not convinced the Socceroos were going to make it at all.

A draw against Thailand away from home and a win by the smallest of margins against Syria were the low points of the campaign. That left the team under serious scrutiny that only intensifies now we're finally headed to Russia.

Here are the three biggest things facing the Socceroos.

The Coach

The future of Ange Postecoglou as coach of the Socceroos was thrown into major doubt partway through Australia's World Cup qualifying campaign after rumours came to light that he would not be leading the team to the tournament in Russia next year.

Postecoglou, who was named as the Socceroos' head coach in 2013, has previously refused to comment on speculation about his future as a manager and said that his time with the team contractually ends when Australia's "World Cup journey ends".

It's important to note that, judging by the coaching history of the Socceroos in past World Cups -- former coach Holger Oseick was sacked in the lead up to the 2014 Brazil World Cup and replaced by Postecoglou -- a change in coach is not the end of the world.

In fact, Postecoglou's leadership ultimately saw the Australian team make fundamental changes to its playing style and progress its way to an impressive Asian Cup victory in 2015.

So that leaves the question -- if Ange does leave the team before the World Cup, who will take up the coaching role for Australia heading into the tournament?

The Players

Without a doubt, the Socceroos remain a team in transition.

Veteran players like Tim Cahill, Mark Milligan and captain Mile Jedinak have been around for multiple World Cup campaigns and always assert their presence on the pitch for Australia -- whether it be through the goals they score or the support they offer to the players around them.

The issue now lies in whether the Socceroos' younger stars like Massimo Luongo, Tomi Juric and Aaron Mooy can step up.

Edgar Su / Reuters
Timmy's still one of Australia's best footballers, and that probably needs to change.

So far they're doing alright, but many of the moments Australia looked like a threatening side during this World Cup qualifying period came as a result of Cahill and Jedinak -- and that probably needs to change if they won't be around for selection in future tournaments, given their ages of 37 and 33 respectively.

Where that leaves Australia when it comes to team selection in 2018 and beyond remains to be seen.

The Playing Style

Lastly, here's the interesting thing -- in 2015, the Socceroos capitalised on Postecoglou's change in playing style on the football pitch to become Asian Cup victors. That change meant that Australia played with just three defenders in an attempt to create a more attacking team that played more on the edges.

In 2015, it worked extremely well and Australia had a run of form that got them to the 2016 Confederations Cup in Brazil. Things were looking great for the World Cup qualifiers. Then, all of a sudden, they weren't.

Overall, Australia won just five of its 10 qualifying matches and drew four in the final phase of Asian qualification (before the Syria and Honduras playoffs). The positive is that the Socceroos only lost once, but it wasn't enough to see us progress directly from the group stage like we had for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

Michael Dodge via Getty Images
There were many moments exactly like this one during the Socceroos' qualifying campaign.

Plain and simply, teams had figured Postecoglou's tactics out and on too many occasions Australia was caught off-guard by an opposing team's counter-attack, or the Socceroos were just unable to put goals into the back of the net.

With that said, the final question remains: Will this change heading into a World Cup where Australia will likely face teams ranked much higher by FIFA? And if not, why not? That also remains to be answered.

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