Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou told reporters Thursday he waited for ‘player ratings’ from popular football video game FIFA 15, released in Australia today, before finalising his squad for upcoming international friendlies against Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
“I had a good idea of what the squad would be over a week ago, but I felt it would be wise to wait and see what each player was rated on the new FIFA before making a final announcement,” the Socceroos coach said.
“There have been some incredible developments in sports science and technology in the past decade, and since taking this job I’ve been particularly focused on ensuring our coaching tools are at the leading edge, which includes integrating useful, modern statistical systems such as FIFA 15 into our selection process.”
This morning’s squad featured some fresh faces, causing much debate among fans on social media. Postecoglou was quick to dismiss those questioning his decision-making. “A few people have wondered why I picked [Nikolai] Topor-Stanley, but my reasoning is really quite simple.
“Topor is rated 65 on FIFA, which is extremely impressive, not to mention his 84 heading and incredible 92 strength.”
Postecoglou also highlighted the Western Sydney Wanderers’ captain’s reliability, saying that “Nikolai’s rating in FIFA 14 was also 65, indicating the lad’s consistency over the last two seasons.”
Bernie Ibini was another selection that stimulated discussion, and Postecoglou pointed towards his pace and agility in justifying his selection, “He has 89 acceleration, 86 sprint speed and 90 agility – I don’t understand why people are objecting to his inclusion.
“There were a few players that I had originally selected who didn’t make the final cut after assessing their ratings, which is a tough but necessary part of my job.”
Postecoglou was careful not to discourage players who weren’t selected, indicating EA Sports’ upcoming player-rating update could allow players currently on the fringe to prove their worth for next year’s Asian Cup.
The Socceroos coach, was critical, however, of the overall way in which Australian players were rated, comparing EA Sport’s attitude towards Australians as “very much like the real FIFA”.
“There were players – good players – I wanted to bring into the squad, but I couldn’t just pick players based on performances alone. To those who missed out, I encourage you to push hard, so when FIFA 16 is launched next year, I won’t have a reason to leave you out.