Milligan set to quit as Jedinak vows to play on

Veteran defender Mark Milligan has admitted he may have worn a Socceroos shirt for the last time after Australia’s World Cup exit in Sochi, while skipper Mile Jedinak is planning to plough on with the national team.

Milligan Jedinak

Mark Milligan and Mile Jedinak in action at the World Cup (Getty) Source: Getty Images

The international future for fading legend Tim Cahill looks over though, with his 40-minute cameo in the tournament-ending 2-0 loss to Peru likely to be his swan-song, after 107 appearances and a record 50 goals for his country.

Thirty two year-old Milligan, who has been involved in four World Cup campaigns, has made 73 appearances for his country, scoring six goals and wearing the captain’s armband on seven occasions since his debut in 2006.

But the toll it’s taken on family life looks to have sapped his hunger as he reflected on the disappointment of a premature departure from Russia.

“It’s been 12 years and four World Cups (two of which he didn’t ultimately play in) and I honestly don’t know (about the future),” he admitted.

“I need to sit down and speak to my family. There are lots of emotions at the minute.

“The final decision will come down to whether I am 100 per cent committed like I have been over the years.

“I don’t want to stay on if my heart is not fully there because that’s not going to benefit anybody.”

Milligan, based in Saudi Arabia with Al Ahli, has a year left on his contract, and after his exemplary displays as a born-again stopper in Russia would clearly still have a lot to offer at January’s AFC Asian Cup in the neighbouring UAE.

Aston Villa midfielder Jedinak, 33, who like Milligan excelled for Australia in Russia, isn’t contemplating calling it quits just yet after picking up his 79th cap against Peru.

“When you play in tournaments like this, all you you think about is playing in tournaments like this,” he said.

“There’s a tournament not too far away (the Asian Cup) and we’ll have to wait-and-see. Obviously I’m enjoying being with this group.

“And being at the World Cup has been an experience I will cherish for a very long time.

“Now we look forward to Graham (Arnold’s) reign and keep building and pushing on this path we are on,” he added after Bert van Marwijk’s short-term tenure ended in disappointment.

“I came over here to enjoy myself. I’ve had a bit of disappointment at club level (with missing out on promotion to the Premier League in the playoff final).

“But as soon as I came into camp I felt really refreshed and the boys, as they do, make you feel like you hadn’t missed a minute.

“It was great to be a part of that. It’s not just the players it’s the staff and the people you work with for a very long time.

“I was able to concentrate on my football again, learning new things and hopefully doing a job for a group of guys that I have so much pride in.”

Milligan paid homage to the influence van Marwijk had on a Socceroos side whose lack of goal power was their ultimate undoing.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the way we tried to play under him,” he said.

“He brought the best out of me. His demeanor and manner just resonated with me.

“We dominated the majority of the games, it’s just a shame that the results didn’t follow.

“That final decision, that final ball. We just fell a little bit short.

“We just need to learn to believe that we deserve to be on the same pitch as these teams.

“We can definitely compete at this level. Maybe what we were missing was the killer instinct and maybe a bit of mongrel.”

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4 min read
Published 27 June 2018 at 4:21pm
By Dave Lewis in Sochi