Bert van Marwijk has gone heavy on strikers such as Apo Giannou for his initial World Cup squad.Bert van Marwijk is facing a month of big decisions to cut the glut of attacking options in his provisional Socceroos World Cup squad.
The Dutchman named an unprecedented nine forwards in his 32-man extended group on Monday in Mat Leckie, Andrew Nabbout, Robbie Kruse, Nikita Rukavytsya, Tomi Juric, Tim Cahill, Jamie Maclaren, Apo Giannou and Daniel Arzani.
Additionally, he named Dimi Petratos as a midfielder who could play in the forward line.
It’s significantly more than the five Ange Postecoglou picked in his extended squad of 31 before the 2014 World Cup, and suggests the short-term results-focused coach is weighing up all his options before chopping his team down to 26 next week and then the final 23 in June.
One such dilemma is the battle for the striker spots.
Cahill appears well on track to booking his flight to Russia after van Marwijk labelled the talisman “a special case”, while Tomi Juric has long been a member of the established core.
After that it comes down to whether he favours, say, the physical presence of Cyprus-based Giannou or the off-the-shoulder runs of Hibernian’s diminutive sharpshooter Jamie Maclaren.
“You’re talking about strikers of different style,” van Marwijk said of the pair.
“Juric and Giannou are very big. They are strikers (that when) you play the ball they have to keep it and all the players have to come around.
“You also have strikers who are very fast. Both strikers sometimes you need.
“I like playing with fast players, especially offensive. But it has to fit, players have to fit together.
“Normally you will not nominate only three very big strikers.”
Maclaren has been scoring freely in the Scottish Premier League but that wasn’t the only factor for van Marwijk, who said he’s not against selecting someone lacking in recent goals if they’re a good fit with the team.
Nabbout has proven at club level he can also play as a No.9 along with his primary position on the wing.
Van Marwijk offered a hint the Urawa Red Diamonds frontman and former Newcastle Jets teammate Petratos might at least make the 26-man cut-off, revealing he’d been happy with their debut displays in March’s friendlies.
“They were very nervous. It was the first time for them but they have qualities that I like,” he said.
“Petratos, he can play on the left side, on the right side and in the No.10 position … everybody who saw the (grand final) game on Saturday sees the potential of Petratos.
“Nabbout is a little bit the same. They are fast, technically good and can score goals.
“I am sure Nabbout can also play centre-forward. I put him there against Norway and maybe it was not so honest to him because it was the first time … but I did that because I think he can do that.”