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EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Socceroos striker Thompson says Van Marwijk appointment will 'reinvigorate the squad'

With the impact of new Socceroos manager Bert Van Marwijk's appointment still yet to be seen, former international striker Archie Thompson has weighed in on the potential positives of the selection.

Thompson told Tribal Football that the appointment may keep players on their toes, and prevent them from getting complacent.

"There's going to be a lot of disappointed players, but that's just how it goes. When Holger Osieck was around I had been part of the whole qualification process, then Ange came in and cut 5 or 6 players, and that's really hard. It's disappointing, but that's what happens," Thompson said of his own experience after a Socceroos coaching change.

"These guys have to perform every week now, hope the starts align, and hope they're on the plane to the World Cup. If anything, it's going to reinvigorate the squad. That's what it did for us in 2006, and that's what I think it'll do again."

Thompson recalled the feeling of anticipation and the nerves that he felt in the lead up to his selection in Guus Hiddink's 2006 World Cup squad, and shared some wisdom on how players on the verge of selection can impress their new gaffer.

"You're on the verge of going to the most watched events in the world, and for me it was the pinnacle of my career to represent my country at a World Cup. For the players now, there's going to be a lot of nerves and uncertainty, especially because there's a new coach," said Thompson.

"A lot of those players that have been part of this qualification he might not like, they might not play the way he wants to, and they might get cut. When Hiddink came in there were players who were certain starters under Frank Farina, but Hiddink brought a clean slate and the dynamic changed entirely.

"You have to really jump on it, and a lot of players who were part of that generation did jump on board. That's what the players have to do now, embrace it."

Although Thompson was not brought off the bench during the Socceroos successful 2006 campaign, he still looks back on the event with a sense of typical Archie Thompson positivity. He said that there are a lifetimes worth of positive experiences and memories that the players that make it to Russia will have to look forward to.

"It's not an opportunity that gets given out to every player. I was fortunate enough to be a part of one of the great Socceroos teams ever, and the experience of travelling and competing together is so unique and special.

"We were put in a village up in Germany, and we had no idea about the sort of reception we were getting back in Melbourne and Sydney, where places were full of supporters.

"As players we're away from it all in our little cocoon, so we got to share special moments together. We could talk about things in our off-pitch lives, we really were like a family, and it's an experience to cherish. The players were willing to die for each other, and if this team has that attitude I think they'll succeed too. It's like going camping with your mates, that's what it feels like."

In addition to the positives that any managerial change can bring by giving players a renewed sense of purpose and opportunity, Thompson said that Van Marwijk was the right man to turn to ahead of Australia's 2018 World Cup campaign.

"We needed someone new, there's been so much negativity in our sport in the last year or so, but now we've got someone who is capable, who knows how to win. He got Saudi Arabia to the World Cup, he got Netherlands to the final, his CV speaks for himself," he said.

"He came here with the right intentions to win at all costs, and that's what we want and need. The quicker everyone jumps on board, the better off we'll be. These could be really exciting times."

About the author

Brodie Cowburn

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