Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the Middle East’s burgeoning reputation as a new frontier for football has been enough to attract two of our finest Qantas Socceroos.
Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the Middle East-s burgeoning reputation as a new frontier for football has been enough to attract two of our finest Qantas Socceroos.
Both Lucas Neill and Mark Bresciano have found moving to the Arab states a positive career change. After playing at the highest level for many years, switching to a competition that is less physically demanding is also having a great knock-on effect for the Qantas Socceroos.
Despite scepticism from some fans and pundits, there-s no doubt both Neill and Bresciano are enjoying their time in the UAE Pro League.
Bresciano has used his time with Al-Nasr to rediscover his passion for the game, and some of his best form.
The 32-year-old playmaker brings some much needed experience and vision to an otherwise young Al-Nasr squad and has stood out from the pack, scoring nine goals in 16 appearances so far this season, with his team second in the league.
Indeed, watching “Bresc” get back to his best was enough to convince Qantas Socceroos coach to bring the midfielder back to the green-and-gold after his self-imposed sabbatical, and Australia were rewarded with a man-of-the-match display in the recent game against Saudi Arabia.
Qantas Socceroos skipper Neill has also found the switch a positive career move, scoring three times in 21 games for Al-Jazira.
Despite missing a crucial spot-kick in a penalty shoot-out that saw his side crash out of the AFC Champions League, the decreased pressure on Neill-s body means he has been able to maintain his form and fitness as he looks to guide the Qantas Socceroos to their third consecutive FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil.
The two met in a league match at the beginning of May, in which Bresciano-s Al-Nasr crushed Neill-s Al-Jazira 5-1, with Bresciano again on the scoresheet.
There are even hints that more Australian players might yet be tempted by a switch to the Middle East, with rumours regarding the futures of Tim Cahill and Alex Brosque surfacing this week.
And given the ongoing quality of Neill and Bresciano, Australian fans perhaps shouldn-t remain sceptical of football in the Middle East.
The Qantas Socceroos begin their final phase of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a clash against Oman in Muscat on Friday, 8 June.
Soon after, the Qantas Socceroos will host Japan in their first home fixture of the fourth stage of Asia-s FIFA World Cup qualification process on Tuesday, 12 June at Brisbane-s Suncorp Stadium. Kick off is at 8pm.
Tickets are on sale now through Ticketek - click here or ph: 132 849.