Full Socceroos coverage
To truly be Australia’s team, a team has to play all over the country.
The Baggy Greens play in all mainland states during a five Test series in their own backyard, but their travel diary is matched by few others.
The Socceroos are arguably the only team aside from the cricketers that really can claim to be representing a sport that is popular throughout the entire nation. But they are acutely aware that they need to appear more often outside of their eastern seaboard strongholds in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Hence their first trip to Western Australia in a decade this week when they take on Bangladesh in a World Cup qualifier at Perth Glory’s neat, trim, 20,000 capacity nib Stadium on Thursday evenng.
Its a good move; the Western Australians, along with fans in Adelaide, missed out during the Asian Cup, and, according to FFA officials, have responded well. Over 17,000 tickets have been sold and the remainder are expected to go in the next few days, ensuring a sell out and a hostile environment for the visiting Bangladeshis.
Socceroo assistant coach Ante Milicic has fond memories of Perth from his time as a player. Although the ex international striker spent the bulk of his career in his native Sydney, along with spells in Brisbane and Newcastle as well as in Europe, Milicic made quite a splash in WA on his brief visits there.
He scored the only goal of the game _ and won the Marston Medal for best on ground _ when Sydney Olympic defeated Perth Glory in the 2002 NSL Grand Final, and recalls a match seven years before that when the nascent Glory took on Italian side Sampdoria in an exhibition game.
“Myself and Kimon Taliadoros (ex Socceroo frontman and now Football Federation Victoria president) got called up as guest players for that match. I was staying in the same hotel as Sampdoria, and got all kitted out with the gear after, ” he reminisced at a training session the national team coaches hosted with several WA youngsters at the match venue on Sunday afternoon.
“Its a great opportunity for the Perth public to come out. We really want to get around the whole country. We didn’t have the chance during the Asian Cup, but the opportutnity now is for the whole country to see the squad, the way its developing and coming forward with the young players.
“The pitch and the surface is great. This is what you need at international level. The pitch and the facilities, the grandstand here is great and the crowd will be close to the pitch. These are the kind of venues that the Socceroos enjoy playing at.”
Milicic said there had been no overnight reports of injuries, and that while Austalia would go into the game against Bangladesh as hot favourites, they certainly would not underestimate their opponents.
“We respect every opponent and Bangladesh is no different. We have chosen a full strength side from everyone who is available. We have done our homework, we know what to expect. “