Australia must have flexible tactics in World Cup playoffs - Brett Emerton
Former Australia midfielder Brett Emerton says Australia must adapt their formation and tactics in upcoming Russia 2018 playoffs to secure a place in next year's World Cup finals.
Emerton backed under-fire Ange Postecoglou as the man to take Australia to Russia 2018, while calling for patience.
The Australian coach has endured scathing criticism since the team finished behind Japan and Saudi Arabia in qualification this week, following disappointing performances against Japan (2-0 away defeat) and lowly-ranked Thailand (2-1 home victory).
But Emerton would not fully endorse the maligned 3-4-3-1 formation installed by Postecoglou.
"You have to treat each and every game differently, depending on the opponent," Emerton, who earned 95 caps, told reporters on Thursday.
The Socceroos face an almighty task to reach their fourth-straight World Cup after finishing third in their Asian qualification group.
They must progress past Syria next month in a two-legged playoff before a final hurdle against the fourth-placed CONCACAF team -- also played over two matches -- looming in November. The away leg is likely to be held in Malaysia on Oct. 5, with Sydney's ANZ Stadium hosting the decider on Oct. 10.
Emerton added that he fears the current Socceroos' squad won't reach its potential until more players ply their trade in bigger leagues.
Australia boast two Premier League starters in Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town) and Mat Ryan (Brighton), while Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin) plays in the Bundesliga and Tom Rogic is at Scottish champions Celtic.
Mooy and Ryan are only three games each into their Premier League journeys.
By contrast, Emerton was part of the 2006 World Cup squad brimming with top-flight experience.
He played almost 250 times for Blackburn in England's top tier, while Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neill (Premier League), Marco Bresciano and Vince Grella (Serie A), John Aloisi (La Liga) and Jason Culina (Eredivisie) were regulars in Europe's best competitions.
"That's something that needs to improve," Emerton said.
"At club level, those players just need to try and play more regularly for their clubs and play for bigger clubs against better opposition.
"But it's not easy. Football's a world game. There are millions of players vying for a small amount of positions."