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Mar 26, 2013

Is Holger Osieck the man for the job?

In most other football nations, Holger Osieck would be cleaning out his desk following the Socceroos' fortunate draw against Oman.

Australia has a longer fuse than most when it comes to lopping off coaches' heads.

But with 10 weeks until Australia faces three matches which will determine their World Cup fate, the question must now be asked whether Osieck is the right man for the job.

The German was tactically out-thought, and there are massive queries over the personnel he chose in a 2-2 draw which leaves the Socceroos closer to missing the World Cup finals than making them.

Words like listless and lifeless were thrown around to describe Australia's performance.

Those critics were being kind.

The first 45 minutes particularly was abject garbage served up by - minus Lucas Neill and Carl Valeri - what Osieck thinks is Australia's strongest available side.

But was it?

The Socceroos' problems were myriad and easy to spot.

The biggest of them Osieck could have addressed in selection - the lack of speed in moving the ball from midfield and continually turning over the ball with dumb, predictable passing.

Sitting on the bench were Mark Bresciano, Mark Milligan and Tom Rogic.

James Holland was preferred in central midfield and struggled badly.

Bresciano, a veteran of two World Cups, is a potent attacking weapon with a killer pass.

Milligan has been in career-best form for Melbourne Victory doing exactly what Australia was crying out for in midfield on Tuesday night.

Rogic is a rare and stunning talent.

A game-changer.

How on earth he wasn't used at all as Australia chased the game late - and why the dangerous Robbie Kruse was hooked - beggars belief.

Any wonder Oman coach Paul Le Guen - a man the Socceroos looked long and hard at for the top job and decided against as his Cameroon unravelled at the 2010 World Cup - was smiling.

His game plan was well executed, and his the better team.

Leave aside the last 15 minutes against Iran in 1997 and look at overall Socceroos performances, and what was dished up on Tuesday night was one of Australia's worst ever on home soil.

The Socceroos' 1998 Oceania Nations Cup loss to New Zealand in Brisbane and the Asian Cup qualifier loss to Kuwait in Canberra in 2009 are two which spring to mind.

Both were with understrength NSL or A-League teams.

There is no such excuse for Osieck.

Right now, there is time and space to make a coaching change.

Football Federation Australia has fired and hired in a short window before.

Frank Lowy lost patience with Frank Farina after the 2005 Confederations Cup, and appointed Guus Hiddink a month later.

Six weeks later, Hiddink had his first match in charge against the Solomon Islands.

It's never wrong to sack a coach if you can find a better one.

And with the end of the European season in May, who knows who might be available for a 12-month mission to get Australia to and through the World Cup finals?

Yes, sacking Osieck would be high-risk.

But the FFA would be negligent not to at least be discussing it.

Because missing the World Cup finals is far higher risk, and now it's very much a possibility.

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