Australia 2 - Brazil 2

Prior to Australia's second match against Brazil the starting 11 for Australia was announced by new coach Frank Farina. Ned Zelic's name was not among the 11. Ned spat it and walked out on the Australian camp and later, by fax, informed Soccer Australia that he was retiring from international football.

Considering the Harry Kewell debate had hardly had time to get cold this turn of events was about as desirable as a hole in the head. The Australian soccer mailing list was overflowing with calls for Ned to stop behaving like a baby and sentiments of good riddance were shared among many listees. I'm sure you know the sort of thing.

However the following post went against the tide and makes for thought provoking reading, whether you agree or not...

Several listees have chastised Ned Zelic for being a sulk etc. I think even Forza questioned his mental state. Hmmm my immediate reaction to the news that Frank had left him out of the team was to question Farina's mental state.

I think Farina's judgment as a coach must be seriously called into question over this decision.

You simply DO NOT play Steve Laybutt and leave out Ned Zelic. It is incomprehensible. Also why suddenly switch to a flat back four ? If FF was going to experiment with the flat back four was this pre-planned ? Perhaps this was a reaction to Sunday's loss. If so it is a reaction which suggests lack of rational thought. Systems are largely dictated by the players you have, and if you have 2 players of the calibre of Zelic and Okon they must both be in the team.

I don't care how many players he wants to tryout, certain players must form the core of our team. i.e. our top class players. I believe there are 4 outfield players who fall into this category - Zelic, Okon, Kewell and Viduka. Plus one keeper out of Bosnich, Kalac, Schwarzer - preferably Bosnich). These are the types of players we need to give us an edge in the World Cup qualifiers. Through in the likes of Lazarides, Moore and Aloisi and we have the basis of a very good team.

Since I've joined this list there have been calls from some listees for the exclusion from the Socceroos of Zelic, Kewell, Bosnich, Viduka and possibly Okon (was he one of those berated for asking for appearance money?) for various reasons. These players have been severely criticised for a host of real or imagined crimes. The criticism usually ends along the lines of "Zelic/Okon/Kewell/Viduka MUST NEVER play for the Socceroos again."

Instead of wanting to deny ourselves these players we should cherish the fact that we are in a period where we have the best players ever to pull on the green and gold.

If we do get rid of the so called uncommitted players what will we be left with - lots of 'committed' players playing a flat back four !! We may as well call ourselves Scotland or New Zealand.

Surely the aim of the national team is to qualify (and do well at) the next World Cup. If that happens then ALL football in Australia will benefit from the NSL down to under 7's.

Ned Zelic is arguably our best player and I don't blame him for being peeved by his exclusion from the team. If it is a case of a choice between Farina and Zelic I'll take Zelic. There are a few coaches around who could do the job. Not too many Ned Zelic's though.

written by Peter Thorpe