4 July 2008

Team for Beijing

Okay so here it is:

GKs:

Federici
Velaphi

DEFs:

North
Milligan
Spiranovic
Leijer
Topor-Stanley
McClenahan

MIDs:

Carney
Troisi
Musialik
Sarkies
Kilkenny
Zadkovich
Celeski

ST:

Thompson
Bridge
Rukavytsya

It seems that Arnold has gone for adaptability with his three over-age selections, current or recent A-Leaguers North, Carney and Thompson. Given that both McClenahan and Topor-Stanley have been selected, I imagine Carney will be used in the left or right attacking forward position in a 4-2-3-1, probably with Troisi on the other flank.

The selection of Archie was a bigger surprise than either North or Carney. He's still getting over a knee injury and has hardly impressed in his brief recent appearances. He'll fit into the team's on- and off-the-park dynamic okay, though.

Given the abundance of decent centre halfs and Arnold's previous strategies, Milligan might be pushed in front of the back four to partner Musialik. Or he could even play right-back, much as he is known to dislike the position. The only viable alternative is North, but I suspect he'll be asked to mark the likes of Aguero and Drogba. (EDIT: My contempt for Zadkid precluded my consideration of him on the right side of defence. I guess he'll start for sure.) Milligan may also lose the captaincy if Arnie decides to hand North the responsibility.

Strangely, Arnold hasn't opted for any midfielder possessing great flair or match-breaking ability, which could be a weakness. Nathan Burns' move to Greece probably ruled him out. Kaz Patafta has barely played of late. James Holland looked a bit raw and out of sorts against China, but even so his absence is a bit strange. Nick Ward hasn't been a major presence in that regard (but then again neither has Celeski). Sarkies would appear to be main candidate to fill the hole behind the lone striker, which could be fine if he plays at his very best. Otherwise . . . .

The selection of Zadkovich is a bit on an irritation. His capacity to play just about anywhere has helped him gain favour, I think, but he seems to lack the discipline, mentality and maturity to succeed among the very best.

I'm happier with the selections of Federici, McClenahan and Rukavytsya. The latter was the natural choice to take Bruce Djite's place in the squad. Djite like Burns will arguably gain more from training with his new club in Turkey than joining the team in Beijing at an important juncture in his career. Maybe the decision to overlook David Williams was similarly motivated, with Brondby facing UEFA Cup matches in July and August.

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