thumbnail Hello,

Australian attitude towards the next generation of Socceroos may be full of pessimism particularly following the failed Olympic qualifying campaign, but there's reason for hope

By Ben Somerford | Asian Football Editor

During last month's 2014 World Cup qualifiers, debate raged in Australia about the current squad's age. The likes of Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer went some way towards silencing the critics with their performances, particularly in the memorable 1-1 draw with Japan. However, the lingering question is where the next generation of national team stars was going to come from.

It's a question often trotted out in Australian football circles with pessimistic responses forthcoming, particularly after the recent failed London Olympics qualifying campaign. However, there is reason for optimism. Indeed, there is Australian talent emerging all over Europe and in the A-League and while the potential may not have been immediately realised, with a bit of patience the next generation will take shape.

And patience is required for Australian footballers given the challenging path they face to reach the top, having to prove themselves both at home and then in Europe, which often leads to late bloomers. Not everyone can be like Harry Kewell, kicking goals in the Premier League as a teenager, but look at the likes of Mark Schwarzer or Tim Cahill, who emerged well into their 20s, and the Aussie positivity may return.

Below, Goal.com takes a look at the top five 'next big things' coming out of Australia.

MUSTAFA AMINI
Dortmund, Central Midfielder, 19

2011-12 SEASON CLUB STATS
Appearances 22
Goals 3
Assists 0
PLAYER FACTS
Senior club debut 17yo (CC Mariners)
International appearances 4 (U-23), 17 (U-20)
Honours 2011-12 A-League Young Player of December

Australian football circles were abuzz with talk about this teenage prospect when he burst onto the scene in the 2010-11 A-League season, playing a big part in the Mariners' run to the Grand Final, before going off on trial at Borussia Dortmund in March 2011.

BVB boss Jurgen Klopp labelled Amini a "great talent" and signed him soon after, while he also attracted the curious nickname 'Pumuckl'. Amini was loaned back to Central Coast last term where his progress seemed to stall, however the youngster still has the qualities to become a big star with his composure on the ball and eye for a pass.

MITCHELL LANGERAK
Dortmund, Goalkeeper, 23

2011-12 SEASON CLUB STATS
Appearances 5
Clean Sheets 2
Goals Conceded 5
PLAYER FACTS
Senior club debut 19 (Melb Victory)
International appearances 5 (U-20)
Honours 2009-10 Harry Kewell medal

If you simply look at the statistics, it's hard to be encouraged by Langerak's past two seasons, however if you listen to those in the know at Dortmund, there's plenty of reason to be excited. The ex-Melbourne Victory keeper has been working hard on his game, while playing understudy to Roman Weidenfeller, although perhaps it's time he got some regular minutes on the pitch.

If he's searching for a loan move, he has proven himself able to handle the big stage after being thrown on after half an hour in last season's DFB-Pokal final victory over Bayern Munich. Australia's goalkeeping future is in safe hands.

TOMMY OAR
FC Utrecht, Left Winger, 20

2011-12 SEASON CLUB STATS
Appearances 19
Goals 3
Assists 3
PLAYER FACTS
Senior club debut 17 (Brisbane Roar)
International appearances 4 (Senior), 33 (U-20)
Honours 2009-10 A-League Young Player of the Year

It's easy to forget Gold Coast product Oar is only 20. For most Australian fans, the hype about his move to Utrecht in March 2010 has long worn off. The 2009-10 A-League Young Player of the Year didn't make the instant impact at his Dutch club many hoped, but the transition to European football is never easy, particularly for someone so young.

Oar has shown moments of brilliance down the left flank at Utrecht and with a bit of confidence, has found form at times. However, consistency remains his biggest mental challenge. Blessed with pace, Oar is slowly beginning to learn how to best exploit it. Once he does, look out Eredivisie defences.

TOMAS ROGIC
Central Coast, Attacking Midfielder, 19

2011-12 SEASON CLUB STATS
Appearances 17
Goals 2
Assists 1
PLAYER FACTS
Senior club debut 19 (CC Mariners)
International appearances 1 (U-23)
Honours 2011-12 A-League Young Player of February

The skilful Canberra-born talent is a youngster who clearly has a huge future in the game, providing evidence of that to Australian audiences after joining Central Coast last January. Previously, Rogic was known as a Nike Football Academy winner, before seeing a dream move to newly-promoted Premier League club Reading collapse due to work permit problems.

The teenager, who has a futsal background, has all sorts of tricks and can shoot with both feet; all in evidence as the Mariners became premiers last campaign. He's opted to hone his skills in Australia next season, but, EU passport assumed, surely a move to Europe isn't far away.

RHYS WILLIAMS
Middlesbrough, Central Defender, 23

2011-12 SEASON CLUB STATS
Appearances 39
Goals 2
Assists 4
PLAYER FACTS
Senior club debut 20 (Burnley)
International appearances 9 (Senior)
Honours 2011-12 Boro's Players' Player of the Year

Had it not been for injury, Perth-born Williams is likely to have established himself on both the club and international scene by now. The 23-year-old agonisingly missed the 2010 World Cup due to a pelvic problem that had him pondering quitting the game, but he's bounced back and showed that he is mentally strong.

He's also proven himself a leader, with his impact at Boro since his return from injury obvious with the side's results vastly improving. Furthermore, Williams is able to play a variety of roles at a high standard, from midfield to central defence. His dream is to feature in the Premier League, which you'd argue isn't far away.

Follow Ben Somerford on

Follow Goal.com Asia on and for the latest in Asian footballing news, features, and analysis

Related

From the web