Socceroos need Rogic to step up as D-Day nears

Socceroos star Tom Rogic has a perfect opportunity to produce the definitive performance that dispels any doubts about his class and temperament in the 2018 FIFA World Cup playoff with Syria.


Tom Rogic Source: AAP

The Celtic forward has shown only glimpses of his true potential for Australia since making his national team debut versus Korea Republic in November 2012.

Rogic has played 29 times for the green and gold, scoring seven goals.

Yet the time has come for Rogic, 24, to move up a gear and make his strongest statement on the international stage because his country needs him more than ever as their double date with destiny approaches.

The Socceroos face the Syrians in the first leg in neutral Malacca, Malaysia, on Thursday and in the return in Sydney next Tuesday.

The winners of this tie will play off against the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF in November for a spot in the finals in Russia in eight months.

There is no question that from a perspective of pure skill and flair Rogic is the finest and most exciting member of the Socceroos, the kind of player who can win a match on his own with a stroke of genius.

Watching him languidly and unhurriedly glide past opponents or effortlessly finding the net with a shot from his decorated left foot - his right foot is almost as deadly - is a sight to warm the hearts of even the most discerning fans.

Rogic is now an established player in the Socceroos and Celtic set-ups because his respective coaches Ange Postecoglou and Brendan Rodgers see him as a man who can make all the difference in tight games. They must feel he is the ultimate match winner.

Yet Rogic's eye-catching game is not flawless mainly because he does not appear to have the biggest of engines.

Several observers in Australia and in Scotland believe he is not a 90-minute player: In fact he often does not last a full game for the Scottish champions.

If his physical qualities matched his technical ability he probably would be unplayable ... in this part of the world anyway.

Aussie fans would like him to display his special skills more often and not in fits and starts. He sometimes disappears in matches and reappears with a spectacular reminder of what magic he can conjure with the ball at his feet.
Rogic missed the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 AFC Asian Cup due to injuries but he has come back strongly from such heartbreaking experiences that would have broken the spirit of many footballers.

So this campaign for Russia provides him with the chance of finally and deservedly playing on a big stage.

There can be no better incentive than the double date with Syria for Rogic to remove any concerns about his overall game with a masterful and highly influential performance that hopefully will lead to a Socceroos victory.

Let's not kid ourselves. The Socceroos are in a spot of bother and under extreme pressure to qualify even though, to be fair, stand-in captain Mark Milligan was telling me only last week that the national team has been in worse qualifying situations before and eventually prevailed.

However, the current Socceroos are lucky to have in their midst a player like Rogic who has a few rare attributes that can unnerve any defence and turn games on their head.

The stage is therefore set for a defining moment in the Socceroos' recent history and in the career of a very gifted footballer.

The ball is in Rogic's court now.

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3 min read
Published 2 October 2017 at 12:59pm
By Philip Micallef