2014 World Cup: Al Nasr’s Brett Holman says Socceroos can surprise a few in Brazil

The forward has called time on his international career with Australia but tells John McAuley his country will give it a go in Brazil.
Australia forward Brett Holman announced his international retirement on April 30. Sarah Dea / The National
Australia forward Brett Holman announced his international retirement on April 30. Sarah Dea / The National

Brett Holman, the Al Nasr striker signed last summer from England’s Aston Villa, unexpectedly announced his retirement from international football one month ago.

Holman, 30, was an integral component in Australia’s qualification for the upcoming Fifa World Cup in Brazil, but since his transfer to the UAE, found his national team opportunities reduced.

Although Ange Postecoglou, the Australia coach, had openly stated he would choose a World Cup squad with an emphasis on youth, it was assumed Holman would be selected to add experience.

After all, he had impressed throughout his debut campaign with Nasr: an ever-present in manager Ivan Jovanovic’s side and a favourite with the fans. Although happy in Dubai, his performances attracted attention from a number of clubs in the Gulf region.

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However, Holman made the call himself, and on April 30, an international career spanning eight years and 63 caps, including a star role for his country at the 2010 World Cup, came to a close.

“Over the past six months, circumstances have led me to re-think my international career and I have made the difficult decision to step aside from my role with the Socceroos,” Holman said. “My priorities lie with my young family, and my focus from now on will be with my club Al Nasr. I’ve enjoyed a lengthy and challenging season in the Middle East, and the league over here continues to go from strength to strength.”

Holman is preparing to watch the Socceroos from afar while they are in Brazil, and offered his thoughts on their chances.

Q Australia are in Group B with Spain, the Netherlands – the finalists in 2010 – and Chile. How do you think they will fare in Brazil?

A It’s going to be very exciting for Australia, because they have the opportunity to play against three great teams, all in the top 20 in the world. It will be a great experience for the players. Hopefully, with the Australian mentality, the boys can give it a good go and surprise a few people along the way.

Q What will be key to Australia’s chances of success in Brazil, and what do you feel would represent success there?

A The key will be being aware of the strength of the opponents, who will all be individually very strong, and adjusting the tactics accordingly. The players will need to be switched on and know that every small opportunity will be lethal against the quality opposition. Success will be competing with these teams, and surprising a few people along the way.

Q With Ange Postecoglou placing an emphasis on youth, how do you think this squad compares to past teams, chiefly the 2010 World Cup side?

A It’s similar to the Netherlands, a squad who are also going through a transitional phase. There is a lot of youth coming through, which is exciting, but it will also be a test to see how the inexperienced players go against the best in the world.

Q You were the standout performer for Australia at the last tournament, scoring goals against Ghana and Serbia during the group stages. What is your best memory from South Africa, and why?

A It’s hard for me to differentiate between the great memories I have from the tournament, but three things stand out. Firstly, to play in a World Cup was very special, and then obviously scoring my first World Cup goal in the match against Ghana was amazing. To score again in our final group game was the icing on the cake, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to progress through to the next stage.

Q If you were to choose one experienced player and one rookie to excel in Brazil, who would they be, and why?

A I hope Mark Milligan excels in Brazil, because it’s his third World Cup, but he didn’t play at the first two. He has done very well for the national team recently, so I hope he has a good tournament. Matt Ryan has massive shoes to fill in goal following the standard set by Mark Schwarzer, but he was voted goalkeeper of the year in Belgium, so hopefully he can keep that form going for Australia.

Q Postecoglou has said he has selected this squad with an eye on the future. What are the necessary changes needed to make sure Australia are successful for the next number of years?

A The most important thing for our national team is to have a core group of players who are playing regular football.


Published: May 29, 2014 04:00 AM


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