Melbourne Victory and Caltex Socceroos midfielder Mark Milligan has praised the appointment of “experienced” coach Bert van Marwijk as Australia’s head coach for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The Dutch manager lead the Netherlands to the 2010 FIFA World Cup final and recently helped Saudi Arabia qualify for their first FIFA World Cup since 2006.
Milligan believes van Marwijk’s experience, knowledge of the game, competitiveness and adaptability make him a “very good fit” to take Australia to Russia.
“I think firstly it’s very important that we’ve now appointed somebody, and obviously somebody with the experience of Bert is very important for us,” Milligan told www.a-league.com.au.
“I think the last four years we’ve worked very hard to establish a squad that’s going to be competitive - not only through qualification – but at the World Cup.
“With his history, we know how competitive he is and how he leads his teams, and I think it will be a very good fit for the players that we have.”
The Melbourne Victory star explained how van Marwijk’s “unbelievable” success with the Saudi Arabian team is a “positive sign” for the Caltex Socceroos.
Van Marwijk’s side played out two close-knit World Cup qualifying matches against Australia; a 2-2 draw in Saudi Arabia and a 3-2 Caltex Socceroos win in Adelaide in 2017.
Milligan said it showcased his ability to make an impact at a new team and also proved why he’s one of the best coaches in the world.
“The success he had there was unbelievable,” said Milligan.
“They’re playing a very strong brand of football. Over there (in Saudi Arabia), they made it extremely difficult for us.
“We had to be out our very best as well and I think he changed the typical way that we had viewed the Saudi Arabian national team and the way that they went about their game.
“He’s able to go over and turn things around there - in difficult circumstances as they hadn’t qualified for a World Cup in quite a while - and I think that’s a positive sign for us.”
“You’ve seen him do different things with the Dutch team over the years and obviously what he did with Saudi,” Milligan added.
“I think the best coaches in the world don’t sort of stick to one game plan; they’re very adaptable.
“The players that we have, we’re able to continue along the lines of that aggressive football that been bred into us over the last few years.
“I’m sure he’ll bring a confidence and another way for us to go down to not only continue growing, but continue being successful.”
Milligan said the appointment shows that the Caltex Socceroos won’t just be making up the numbers at the World Cup – they’ll be aiming to win matches.
“FFA [Football Federation Australia] have been very proactive in going and finding a coach that they thought would be suitable for us and high enough profile that we can take that to the World Cup with confidence and show people that we want to do well there and we’re not just there to make up the numbers,” the Victory star said.
“That was important to do that, to make sure that we put someone in charge that had the same goals as the playing group.”
Australia will now look forward to their first “two massive games” under Van Marwijk – friendlies against Norway and Colombia.
Milligan said: “We’ve got two massive games in March and two very good games for him to come in and be able to test us and see where we’re at and make sure we’re able to do and produce what he needs to be successful come June.”