SOCCEROOS legend Mark Schwarzer has made a bold prediction about how Aaron Mooy can go to the next level at the World Cup.
Plus Jamie Maclaren reveals how FFA robbed him of months of his young career and a Socceroos coach contender throws his hat in the ring for another job.
It’s all in World Cup Scout!
SCHWARZER’S MOOY, WORLD CUP VERDICT
Legendary Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has boldly predicted Aaron Mooy will go to another level at the World Cup as he’s taken well to life in the Premier League.
Mooy, who was rested in Huddersfield’s FA Cup win midweek, has been the leading man for his club side in their debut season in the Premier League.
After joining permanently from Manchester City in the off-season, Mooy is topping a host of Huddersfield’s attacking charts and has earned wide praise from UK pundits.
And Schwarzer believes he can improve even further ahead of the crucial 2018 World Cup.
“He’s already exceeded all expectations in adapting to the Premier League and he can achieve even more and go to another level,” Schwarzer was quoted by SBS.
“Huddersfield have their work cut out to try and stay in the Premier League and Aaron is a vital factor in them succeeding in that aim.
“He’s the perfect fit for how they play and is David Wagner’s main man in his position. He’s evolving and learning all the time.
“The Premier League has been vital in his development but also Russia offers a huge opportunity for him to perform and deliver on a massive stage and perhaps go up another gear.”
HOW FFA COST MACLAREN SIX MONTHS
Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren has detailed how FFA cost him six months of his career and then had the cheek to ask him to play for them.
A native Melburnian, Maclaren’s Scottish heritage helped the striker to obtain a British passport and saw him make his international debut with Scotland at Under-19 level.
“My first international call-up was for Scotland,” he told The Scotsman.
“I couldn’t believe it, but I hadn’t been picked for Australia, so I thought, ‘why not?’
“As soon as I played for Scotland, the Aussies were straight on the phone, asking me to make a decision. I thought it was a bit cheeky from them.
A British passport should have helped the 24-year-old’s first overseas signing at Blackburn, however the FFA held up his paperwork and essentially cost him six months of his career.
“I was just 17 at the time and I’d already had some problems with Australia when I moved to Blackburn,” Maclaren said.
“They had this rule that, if you didn’t have a British passport, they made it difficult for you. But I had a British passport – and they still made my registration difficult.
“I was out of football for five months without a competitive game because the Australian federation stopped me. I was a bit annoyed about that.
“They stopped me for playing for five months and now they wanted me to play for them.”
Maclaren delayed the decision on his allegiance, before eventually choosing to represent Australia at international level. He has since worn the green and gold at under-20 and under-23 level before making his Socceroos debut in 2016 – earning six caps to date.
The attacker remains proud of his Scottish caps, and hopes for further chances with the Roos in the future.
“I believe everything happens for a reason and I’m thankful my first international games were for Scotland because it’s a country I’m familiar with and fond of.
“I’ve still got my Scotland shirt, signed and up on the wall at home. It’s something I will always be proud of.”
MANCINI INTERESTED IN COACHING ITALY
Former Manchester City and Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini has said he would like to coach Italy’s national team, after being linked with the Socceroos job.
The job has been vacant since Gian Piero Ventura was sacked in November following Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup and Carlo Ancelotti, another potential candidate, has already said he is not interested at the moment.
“I have a dream, which is to win as a coach something I never won as a player: the World Cup,” Mancini told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I have worked at big clubs and won. It’s beautiful to coach the national team. It would be an honour, a source of pride – and winning the European championship or World Cup even more so.”
REFEREE ADMITS ERROR IN WORLD CUP PLAY-OFF
The Romanian referee in a fateful World Cup play-off between Switzerland and Northern Ireland in November has admitted making a mistake in awarding the Swiss a match-winning penalty.
“It was a sad and not very nice moment for me,” Ovidiu Hategan told Romanian television at a gala event for the country’s football association this week.
“Sad because I made this mistake and painful because otherwise on our side we had put in a good performance. In the world of refereeing it’s the same for goalkeepers: your mistakes get noticed.”
Hategan awarded Switzerland a penalty after deeming Corry Evans to have handled inside the area at Windsor Park, although replays clearly showed the ball having struck his shoulder.
Switzerland’s Ricardo Rodriguez duly converted and the Swiss won the game 0-1. A goalless return leg draw in Basel saw the Swiss go through 1-0 on aggregate, booking them a place in Russia.
Northern Ireland’s dreams of playing in the World Cup for the first time since 1986 were crushed.
PRE-WC INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES CONFIRMED
World Cup host Russia will warm up for the tournament with friendlies against Austria and Turkey.
The Russian Football Union says it has reached deals to play Austria away in Innsbruck on May 30, before hosting Turkey in Moscow on June 5.
The Turkey game comes nine days before Russia kicks off the World Cup in Moscow with its opening Group A game against Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, England have added fellow World Cup qualifiers Nigeria and Costa Rica to their pre-World Cup friendlies schedule.
Gareth Southgate’s side will play Nigeria at Wembley on June 2 and Costa Rica at Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium on June 7 as they prepare for the summer tournament in Russia.
England have already announced games with Netherlands and Italy, two giants of the world game who failed to qualify for Russia that are for March.