Ange Postecoglou’s former Brisbane pupils Matt McKay and Ivan Franjic feel the new Socceroo coach’s ability as a great motivator will make the side a force in Brazil.
The Roar duo were named in Postecoglou’s first squad last week to face Costa Rica in next Tuesday’s international friendly at Allianz Stadium.
The Socceroos’ confidence has taken a hammering in recent times due to back-to-back 6-0 losses to Brazil and then France under former coach Holger Osieck.
But McKay, who captained the Roar to their maiden championship under Postecoglou in 2011, says the new national boss will restore the spirit that has lacked recently and get Australia back to their competitive best.
“He’s a great man manager first and foremost and he’s tactically aware,” McKay said on Monday.
“I think he’ll bring that spirit back to the side.
“He’s a great motivator, he’ll get every player achieving and playing their best football and, if we can play to our best, we can really challenge teams at the World Cup.”
McKay played various roles under sacked coach Osieck with the German also slotting him into the perennial problem spot of left-back.
But he says while he expects to make a return to his natural midfield position under Postecoglou, he’s anticipating a lot more competition for spots.
“I expect to be back in midfield now,” McKay said.
“I enjoyed playing there under Ange in previous teams so I know what it’s all about.
“It’s very moment-based playing, which I think suits a lot of the players in the team so it’s going to be competitive.”
The axing of seasoned defenders Luke Wilkshire and Sasa Ognenovski and midfielder Brett Holman along with the retirement of stalwart Mark Schwarzer has left the side short of experience.
And while Lucas Neill has been selected in the squad, Postecoglou has yet to name a captain with Mark Bresciano or Tim Cahill also likely candidates.
But McKay feels it’s up to every player to show some leadership in the side.
“The way the squad is now, positions have opened up for leaders but I don’t think it is just on one person – it needs to be a collective, myself included,” the 30-year-old said.
“The captain, all he does is toss the coin, so it comes down to the 11 men and the subs to change the game.”
Franjic, who played at right-back in the Roar’s back-to-back championship-winning campaigns, is Postecoglou’s pick for the role in the current squad.
And while he has also flourished in a more attacking role this season, he’d be happy to play in defence.
“That’s where I’ve played with him at Brisbane and he knows my capabilities as a player and what I can do there,” he said.
The 26-year-old, who looks likely to add to his five caps next Tuesday, also backed Postecoglou to reinvigorate the Socceroos.
“We’ve all seen what he’s done with Brisbane and Victory and I’m more than confident he can do the same with the Socceroos and get us up and running again,” he said.
“As a nation, we need to get back on our feet because we’re much better than what we’ve been showing.
“I’d back ourselves against any team.”