Socceroos, news, Ange Postecoglou, Celtic, Aaron Mooy

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Ange Postecoglou, the superstar manager of Scottish giants Celtic, has backed the Socceroos to ‘make an impact’ at next month’s World Cup despite a brutal group featuring reigning champions France.

Postecoglou, who was at the helm of the Socceroos in the 2014 World Cup, knows all about facing tough opponents on football’s biggest stage, with the Australians facing heavyweights Netherlands and then-champions Spain.

But he believes the Socceroos can threaten their bigger rivals in France and Denmark, two teams who were also in Australia’s Group at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and Tunisia.

Asked about the Socceroos chances of success in Qatar, Postecoglou told FoxSports.com.au: “It depends on what you measure success by for us. But you know, I definitely think we can make an impact there and make an impact in our group against some of those nations.

“I think the key to any World Cup build-up is form leading into it. And we’ve still got sort of a few weeks before that, and hopefully some guys time their run well (so) they’re playing good football and feeling good about it.”

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This World Cup is unique in multiple regards. Hosts Qatar are hardly a traditional footballing nation – not mentioning the questions of corruption over their winning bid to hold the event – while every match will be played in plush new airconditioned stadiums. But the biggest change is the shift from its traditional off-season scheduling to be moved right into the heart of the global football calendar.

Postecoglou said: “It’s a different World Cup, there’s only a week leading into it. So whatever your recent form is and fitness is, you can take it right into it. Previous World Cups obviously being in the off-season, sometimes players have some time off, but now they’ll just be rolling straight into it. With the A-League starting and European leagues (and) around the world going, it’ll be interesting to see who hits form before that and who can make an impact.”

For Postecoglou, one player’s form he has closely been watching is Aaron Mooy, the veteran Australian midfielder who joined Celtic a couple of months ago.

“With Aaron, he’s definitely on the way there (form and fitness), his last few games for us have been excellent. With seven games to go, he can get plenty of football between now and then. If he’s in good physical condition I know Aaron can certainly make an impact and be a big influence.”

26-year-old Socceroos midfielder Ajdin Hrustic, arguably the team’s best player in recent years and a crucial creative influence, this week suffered an ankle injury that will significantly hamper his World Cup preparations – if not force him to miss some, if not all, of the Socceroos group games.

The Socceroos are likely to turn to Mooy and former Celtic player Tom Rogic as the key creators from midfield come Qatar. Postecoglou believes both could stand out in next month’s tournament.

“I think we’re never going to be a nation that relies on one or two players. But certainly, they are two that have got the experience and both have the ability and the confidence in themselves that going to a World Cup, they certainly won’t be overawed by it and take on the challenge. I guess the key for both of them is that hopefully they’re both in good condition and playing well.”

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Postecoglou also reflected on his own experience of leading the Socceroos at Brazil 2014, a year before he would make history by guiding the Aussies to a first-ever men’s Asian Cup title.

“Yeah, it was great,” he said. “I mean, obviously, it was a great experience to lead your country at a World Cup. I thought, particularly in the first two games, we played really well but we didn’t get the results we wanted. And that was disappointing because I thought we could have made an impact, particularly in the game against the Dutch because we really took it to them and had some good opportunities but unfortunately fell short.

“So you leave with sort of regret that we couldn’t take the opportunities before (they scored).”

Australia particularly impressed against the Netherlands, with Tim Cahill scoring one of the great World Cup goals and Mile Jedinak’s penalty handing the Aussies a 2-1 lead, only to lose 3-2.

Nevertheless, Postecoglou says the tournament was: “A special experience. As I said, not many coaches get the opportunity to manage their own country in a World Cup. And it was definitely an experience I look back fondly on.”

The Australian returns down under next month with his Celtic side to face Premier League club Everton and Sydney FC. Postecoglou will also be sharing his journey with Australian fans at two special events, “An Evening with Ange Postecoglou – The Journey So Far”.

Postecoglou said he was “really keen. Obviously I’ve been away for a while and haven’t even been back home because of COVID and also changing jobs and coming over here. A lot of people – I understand back in Australia I’ve had a lot of support, and a lot of people are sort of thinking about my journey, so it’d be great to share it with them.

“Obviously I try and do that whenever you’re talking to people there, but hopefully on a night like that I’ll give people a bit of an insight into my world now, what it’s like to manage one of the biggest clubs in the world, but also what’s happened over recent years with the Socceroos and in Japan, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Ange Postecoglou, is returning to Australia this November with an exclusive new two show speaking tour: “An Evening with Ange Postecoglou – The Journey So Far” presented by TEG Live.

Tickets are available now via www.TEGLive.com.au

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