Australia v Netherlands: Australia promise to counter-act Louis van Gaal system with Dutch-inspired attacking intent

The Socceroos will not sit back in this Group B encounter

The Australian manager Ange Postecoglou has said that the country’s obsession with playing football the Dutch way has helped them prepare for the match against the Netherlands in which defeat would take them to the brink of World Cup elimination.

The nation’s desire to adopt Dutch principles dates to the appointment of Guus Hiddink as manager in 2005-6, which saw them reach the knock-out stage of the finals in Germany for the only time in their history. After failing to persuade Hiddink to come back, or his deputy Johan Neeskens to stay, Australia made another Dutchman, Pim Verbeek, their next permanent manager

Their latest manager, Australian Ange Postecoglou, has reintroduced the Dutch ambition to the side since being installed last October and said that the Netherlands had “driven the development of our football” in the last couple of years. “We have an understanding of how they play the game, he added. But he pointed out that the Dutch side’s new 5-3-2 system , deployed against the Spanish, showed that Australia could not depend on what it had learned from recent coaches or its Dutch technical directors Rob Baan and present incumbent Han Berger.


Postecoglou was struggling to get a job in football after leaving Australia under 20s team in 2007. He couldn’t even secure a role in the nation’s third division when the Brisbane Roar position came up in the Australia A-League, when the previous manager there was sacked for drink-driving. Postecoglu revolutionised the team and he secured the national team job last October after successive losses 6-0 to Brazil and France. It wasn’t so much the defeats as the defensive performances which caused national outrage. It was significant that Postecoglou said yesterday morning that Australia won’t be defensive against the Dutch.

Asked if a defensive strategy would be wise, he said: “No. I think we’ve said right from the start that’s not while we came to the World Cup. We know we’ve got to be strong defensively, as the Dutch are very dangerous going forward. It’s an enormous challenge for us but if we defend for 90 minutes there’s only going to be one result and that’s not in our favour. We will make sure we are strong defensively but spend just as much time working on what we do when we have the ball as when we don’t.”

He has dismissed the Australia old guard – Lucas Neill, Luke Wilshere, with Mark Schwarzer also seeing writing on wall – and put faith in young players to bring renewal. He has admitted that the players coming through are not as good as the Kewells and Vidukas but believes that if you give them their chance they will thrive.

Postecoglou has lost right back can Franjic, who has returned home a hamstring tear sustained in the 2-1 defeat to Chile, and Mark Milligan, who sustained a hamstring injury in training on Monday.