It’s hard to imagine that three years ago Australian football was without the Western Sydney Wanderers.
It’s hard to imagine our game without the fans, passion, excitement and silverware that this club brings. Now it’s hard to imagine the Socceroos without the Wanderers elite gracing the ranks.
It’s evident that national boss Ange Postecoglou has come under the influence of this great club, naming two Wanderers in his final squad to take on the best of the continent in the Asian Cup (and naming four in his provisional squad).
The Asian Cup is being held in Australia for the first time and in the stifling heat of January having players that practice their art in these conditions on a weekly basis will be very tempting to Postecoglou. In the Western Sydney Wanderers the national boss has a couple of names that will go a long way to helping his side lift the famed trophy.
In The Squad
World Cup star Matthew Spiranovic and goal scorer in the Champions League Final Tomi Juric have made the final cut while captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley and speedster Nikita Rukavytsya are down as injury reserves.
25-year-old Spiranovic is the most likely contender to make the starting XI having travelled to Brazil with the national setup for the World Cup earlier this year. He has extensive tournament football experience having been part of the squad that finished runners up in the 2011 Asian Cup and knows how to win silverware with the Champions League and German Cup amongst his trophy cabinet.
Up front though is where Postecoglou’s side is at its thinnest, and the Wanderers representation in this area could be the key to Asian Cup success, especially since strikers Adam Taggart and Josh Kennedy were ruled out after spending most of their recent time in the physio’s office.
Tomi Juric is front and centre for game time with his spectacular form at the pointy end of the Champions League giving him and his nation a much needed boost. Juric scored four goals in eight games in the knockout stages of the tournament, including the winner in the first leg of the final against Al-Hilal.
This is combined with his goal against Juventus for the A-League All Stars, his club Golden Boot award last season and his two goals in six matches this season.
His youth, supreme talent and the lack of depth behind Tim Cahill will give the born & bred Western Sydney boy a great chance when his country takes on Asia.
Joining Juric at the spicy end of the pitch is Rukavytsya who started off as a striker for Perth Glory but developed into an exciting attacking wingman whilst playing in Germany.
Although he’s yet to get off the mark for the Wanderers after joining at the start of the current season, Rukavytsya’s playmaking abilities are second to none in Australia. With pace and creativity in abundance, and the ability to deliver the most delightful aerial balls into the box, he will provide a challenge to most oppositions.
Topor-Stanley pressed his case for selection in the most emphatic way imaginable as he led his side to a remarkable Champions League victory earlier this year. The centre-back was influential as a leader and as a player in the spectacular victory, and was eventually named in the back four of the tournament’s best side.