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HAN BERGER...World Cup warning
FOOTBALL Federation Australia Technical Director Han Berger is concerned about the Socceroos' chances of qualifying for future World Cups due to problems with junior development.
Speaking at the announcement of the appointment of Aurelio Vidmar (Under-22s) and Paul Okon (Young Socceroos) as coaches of Australia's youth sides on Thursday, Berger said the nation's youth set-up had reached a critical stage and he was growing impatient at the lack of progress.
While he believes Australia's youth sides have been performing well at international level, despite the Under-23's failure to qualify for the Olympics, Berger feels the right message is yet to filter through to junior coaches on the best way forward.
The Dutchman is frustrated with what he perceives to be an emphasis at junior level on developing brilliant athletes, not skilful footballers.
"I think we have a problem ... and that's even maybe under-estimating it," Berger said today. "Especially concerning special players, match-winning players that can make a difference.
"We need to pay a lot of attention to the next generations. We need to try and identify, nurture and develop the proper type of players.
"I'm looking at (the current) Olyroos, which players are ready to step up to Socceroos?
"There were quite big expectations on (the) next generation of players but there seems to be some stagnation."
Berger said he was becoming impatient with the right message still not getting through, and while he believes Australia can make things right, he knows it is going to take time.
"If (you) look at out-and-out football countries around the world, it took Germany 10 years to make changes to be at where they are now," he said. "It's a long-term process, there's no quick-fix for those type of things.
"If you look at the match-winning players, the attackers of the next generation, we have a lot of work to do."
Berger hopes the appointment of Okon, together with Vidmar's continued work, will see the emphasis change towards producing more technically gifted players.
"I'm not saying results and winning are not important, but there has to be proper balance, especially in early stages of youth development," he said.
"We have to teach young kids the skills and tools to be successful and win in the proper way.
"It's a simple given fact that the most successful teams have the best players, not the biggest or the fittest players.
"If Australia wants to make a step up on world stage, go to higher level, than around the 20 position we need to have those types of players.
"And I simply don't see enough of those young Australian players playing in A-League or as starters in Europe. That is my warning. That is everything that drives what I'm trying to do."