EXCLUSIVE: Socceroos have gone off track, says Ryan

Australia's Socceroos have been "ill disciplined" since winning the 2015 AFC Asian Cup and must get back on track as they make a final push towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup, goalkeeper Mat Ryan has warned.


Maty Ryan has overcome the hardest period of his football career Source: Getty Images Europe

Australia are engaged in a dogfight with the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Saudi Arabia to reach the finals in Russia.

Ange Postecoglou's team are still reeling from a hugely disappointing match against Thailand in Bangkok where two penalty goals from captain Mile Jedinak earned Australia a lucky 2-2 draw and robbed them of a chance to take outright leadership of qualifying Group A.

Australia's next World Cup qualifier is away to Iraq on March 23 before they face the UAE in Sydney five days later.

Ryan, who was on the outer at La Liga club Valencia, moved to Belgian side Genk on loan in January's transfer window in a bid to play more matches.

Despite not playing regularly in Spain, Ryan retained his place in the national team but warned the Socceroos must lift their game if they are to play in a fourth straight World Cup.

"It's not every day you get the chance to play at a World Cup, it's the utmost pinnacle of the game," Ryan said.

"I had a taste of it and I crave to get back to as many more World Cups as I can to show what Australia and myself have to offer to the football world. This is what drives me, it's what I live for.

"It's always hard to put the finger on 'the' (Socceroos) problem. I just feel we've gone away from our foundations a little bit in the way we've conceded goals in our last couple of matches by making Ill-disciplined errors and being punished for them like we were at the World Cup.

"They are mistakes which he hadn't done post-World Cup and through our Asian Cup campaign."

Ryan has had a flying start to his stint at Genk, being put straight into the starting side and winning man-of-the-match honours in his last game - a 1-0 league win over Mouscron at the weekend.

This would no doubt please Postecoglou, who has been eager to see his No.1 keeper back in action week in week out.

The move to Genk has also fully restored Ryan's morale after he survived what he described as the "hardest period" of his life in eastern Spain, where for the first time in his career he had to face a situation where he was not playing regularly.

"It was not a matter of hurt pride, it was more of a disappointment that I wasn't seen as the best man for the job," he admitted.

"But I tried to turn that into motivation to train well and play well when given the opportunity to convince the coach(es) that I was (the best)."

Ryan's mother Carol played a key role throughout his ordeal in Spain.

The goalkeeper surprised his mum in Sydney with an unexpected visit over Christmas. He even posted a video on Twitter of their warm embrace that touched many people's hearts.

"I imagine my mum could give you a better insight but a lot of times I felt sorry for her with the tirades sometimes I put on her," he explained.

"They were not directed at her but I was just just venting (my feelings). I mean she's pretty accustomed to it, I would think, across my career when things haven't gone so well or if we lost a game.

"But she knows how much football means to me and I could see how she wasn't handling it well when she knew one of her children wasn't happy and enjoying himself.

"But like the great person she is, she's always encouraged and urged me on and made we aware that life is a constant lesson and to continue pushing through it and learning from it."

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4 min read
Published 7 February 2017 at 1:23pm
By Philip Micallef
Source: SBS