AARON Mooy’s omission made him angry and caused pandemonium amongst Socceroos fans wondering how the side’s highest profile player was being left out of the side’s highest profile game.
“You’ve just got to get on with it, I don’t make the decisions,” Mooy said afterwards. “I have to try my best when I play. Of course I was angry I wasn’t playing but every player should be angry if they’re not.”
Like Harry Kewell in 2005 against Uruguay, and Tim Cahill in 2006 against Japan at the World Cup, Mooy channelled his anger into influencing proceedings when he came on.
But it was a lot earlier than anyone expected.
His arrival into the contest after 11 minutes thanks to Brad Smith’s injury enlivened the green and gold, with his passing range engaging both wingbacks, his movement and interplay thriving with Tom Rogic and his workrate and industry the signs of a player determined to prove a point.
“He had to come on,” said Mark Bosnich at halftime.
“The irresponsibility of not picking him was laid bare (in the opening minutes).
“He did more in his first 10 minutes (after he came on) than anyone had done in that time (up until) there … and was combining well with Rogic … and Troisi.”
Robbie Slater noted pre-game about the long term consequences of the decision in terms of Ange Postecoglou’s relationship with the Huddersfield Town midfielder, while John Aloisi even described the decision as a “shock”, declaring you want your best players on the park for the biggest games.
But, as bullish as ever, Postecoglou said afterwards he would do it again.
“It was just a selection decision.
“We wanted to be a bit more aggressive in attack and Aaron was the one who missed out,’’ he said.
“It’s not the first time he’s missed out and it won’t be the last time. We’ve done it before.
“Smithy unfortunately got injured and we had to make a change but that’s the beauty of having depth in the squad you can throw someone like Aaron on.
“I thought he made a difference, I thought Tomi Juric made a difference when he came on, I thought Nikita Rukavytsya grew into the game. That was going to be important tonight, we knew it could go to 120 minutes.
“It was a like for like change, (Robbie) Krusey went out left where he’s played for us before and Aaron went into the number 10. It was a game where we wanted to be aggressive, and didn’t want to fill those wide positions with defensive players.”
Speaking on Fox Sports, Postecoglou also explained: “Those are the decisions I make. With guys like Aaron — he’s one of our special players … Plays a high level and high intensity so we just have to be careful how we use him.”
The tension riddled win even drew a smile from Postecoglou after the game, as he mused: “Why do we have to make it so hard”.
The Socceroos boss was critical of his side’s crossing, and also lamented another soft goal that changed the entire tide of the game.
“We have that in our system at the moment we need eradicate it; we give the opposition a leg up.”
Two of Posetcoglou’s indispensable players will be missing in the first-leg of the CONCACAF playoff, with Mark Milligan and Mathew Leckie picking up suspensions.
Given Leckie’s unique role in a formation that has polarised so much opinion, it is a massive hole for the coach to mull over the next month.
It’s been our longest ever WC campaign … that’s why the squad is made up as it is.
“Lecks was fantastic tonight.
“He is turning into a really accomplished international player and I’m rapt for him; he’s done everything I’ve asked of him and he’ll keep delivering.”
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