Socceroos AFP PHOTO / William West

Time for Leckie and Co to come to the party

FOR the past 10 years or so we have heard or read about Australia's "golden generation" of football players.

Now with the last two - Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano - more than likely making their final bow at a major international tournament, it is time for the Socceroos' "generation next" to step up to the plate and help lead Australia to glory and a much-needed rise up the FIFA world rankings.

Since he took over the role in October 2013, Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has championed the likes of Mathew Leckie, Robbie Kruse, Massimo Luongo, Tomi Juric and Tommy Oar.

Kruse has shown in a few games that he might just be the one to take the baton - he was certainly missed in the World Cup after sustaining a knee injury.

Leckie, too, has shown glimpses of quality and had an outstanding tournament on the world stage in Brazil.

But in the three games in that competition and his other 13 appearances for Australia, Leckie has scored only once, and if he is the man to fill Cahill's boots once he pulls the pin, then that goal-ratio has to improve.

Luongo plies his trade in the lower reaches of the Football League in England with Swindon Town, but Postecoglou has shown faith with him too.

But if the 22-year-old is to help take the Socceroos to the next level he needs to take the bull by the horns at tournaments such as the Asian Cup.

Postecoglou reckons this latest generation of players are the future for Australia, and he has stuck to his guns about that during his tenure.

He says the talent is there to shine on the international stage, but during his time in charge, apart from a decent-but-winless showing at the World Cup, the Socceroos' record is not good.

The Asian Cup is the perfect time to change that and this is the chance to show everyone just what this generation has.

Let's hope they can do it.