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Does Australia’s football rivalry with England matter?

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The last time the Socceroos met England was a momentous occasion for Australian football. Frank Farina’s men triumphed 3-1 over a much fancied England and fans across our nation have been dining off that moment ever since.

That night the England squad contained football stars such as David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Michael Owen and Frank Lampard. Even a young Wayne Rooney made his debut.

Since then Australian football has taken some important steps forward, including qualifying for three consecutive World Cups, creating an ever growing domestic league and have become Asian Cup champions on home soil.

It is safe to say Australian football has come along in leaps and bounds.

When you compare the two Australian squads the 2003 squad looks vastly superior. Individually we were a much better team but the recent side has achieved far greater results.

The starting XI Ange Postecoglou chooses to walk out against England (Saturday morning AEST) barely holds a candle to the squad that triumphed against England 13 years ago.

Eleven men took to the pitch that night and with the five substitutes, 16 men instantly left as heroes.

Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neill, Craig Moore, Tony Popovic, Tony Vidmar, Stan Lazaridis, Brett Emerton, Paul Okon, Kevin Muscat, Josip Skoko, Marco Bresciano, Scott Chipperfield, Vince Grella, Mark Viduka, Mile Sterjovski, Harry Kewell and John Aloisi entered football folklore that night. For many of them the England victory represents one of their most memorable nights in a Socceroos jersey.

Postecoglu has placed his stamp on the current Socceroos squad and the ever growing number of players, although not as talented as the ‘Golden Generation’, are all dancing to the beat of their manager’s drum.

Postecoglu’s team relies on a hard work ethic and established team chemistry. He has built and shaped this team to evolve and grow as football in Australia does.

The modern-day Socceroos are now a much more travelled squad, having played in various parts of Asia for the purposes of World Cup qualification. The squad is a championship-winning team but it’s not a great squad of individuals.

To borrow a phrase from the great Ned Zelic, individual brilliance appears to have become a thing of the past. Apart from a few Timmy Cahill moments over the years our current national team doesn’t appear to have the flare of yesteryear.

Australian football no longer relies on marquee friendlies like we have in the past; we have moved beyond that. Supporters of the sport no longer follow the team for one campaign every four years, the Socceroos have now become a team you follow on a consistent basis.

Since joining the Asian Football Confederation we play more games on a regular basis and the results in majority of games have far greater consequences.

While Australia has always had a proud sporting history with England the upcoming result of a football friendly doesn’t seem to matter on the current sporting landscape.

The current standing of Australian football doesn’t require a victory over our oldest enemy. The status of Australian football now hinges on World Cup qualifications and the strength of the domestic league, not on our next friendly international encounter.

© 2016 The Roar| This article was written by Hardsy which first appeared in The Roar on May 26 2016.

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