By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE, May 13 (Reuters) - The Socceroos face an almighty challenge getting through their World Cup 'group of death' but it is not the Australian way to park the bus in the hope of scoring cheeky goals on the counter-attack, according to former Australia striker John Aloisi.
Australia, ranked 59th in the world, have been drawn with reigning champions Spain, Netherlands and Chile in one of the toughest pools at the Brazil finals and few expect the Socceroos to be anything other than group stage cannon fodder.
Australia's best hope of thwarting the likes of David Silva and Robin van Persie might be to swamp their penalty area with extra defenders, but coach Ange Postecoglou would have none of that, Aloisi told Reuters in an interview.
"Of course, we want to see the Socceroos win but I think it's important that we try to win and we don't just sit off and park the bus," said Aloisi, who earned 55 caps for Australia and played at the 2006 finals in Germany.
"It's not the Australian way, anyway. I think that's what Ange knows. Ange knows the character of the Australian players and he knows that's what the public want.
"He'll try to bring that across, of course, try to win games in his way and the Australian way.
"I think you encourage them to play their natural games... Be brave with the ball, play without fear. (Postecoglou) will give them a lot of confidence.
"Of course, they're not going to go crazy (attacking) and get caught out all the time but... I don't think they'll sit off, that's just asking for trouble. As long as you're well organised you can play the football that you've selected the players for."
Aloisi, who played top-flight football in Belgium, England and Spain across a 20-year career, is etched in Australian sporting folklore as the man who scored the decisive penalty in a 2005 playoff against Uruguay to book the Socceroos their ticket to the Germany finals the following year.
The striker's spotkick ended a 32-year wait for a second World Cup appearance since a 1974 debut in then-West Germany and he played a key role as the team defied the odds to advance to the knockout rounds from of a group featuring Brazil, Croatia and Japan.
Aloisi came off the bench to score the final goal in the Socceroos' 3-1 group win over Japan and became Australia's second World Cup goal-scorer following a brace by Tim Cahill.
Dubbed 'the golden generation', many of the players that formed the nucleus of that side held on to their spots well into their thirties, but Postecoglou, who will name a provisional 30-man squad on Wednesday, has pledged to put his faith in youth.
That has meant no place for long-serving skipper Lucas Neill, nor veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and midfielder Brett Holman, both of whom announced their international retirements after Postecoglou's appointment in October.
Australia are rated a 1,000-1 shot by major betting agencies to win in Brazil, but Aloisi believes a youthful Socceroos team balanced with the experience of Cahill and fellow World Cup midfielder Mark Bresciano could cause problems for their rivals.
"At first it was like, 'oh - where are we going to get any points from?'" the 38-year-old said of his initial reaction to Australia's Group B draw.
"But then you look at it and say 'well, it's tough. But at the World Cup you're always going to be playing tough opposition'.
"You've got to match yourself against the best in the world.
"A lot of the players are very young, early 20s. They're not playing in the top leagues just yet but they might be there in a couple of years time. This will help them progress.
"It will hold them in good stead for the future." (Editing by John O'Brien)
- Sports & Recreation
- John Aloisi
- Ange Postecoglou