Michael Zullo: Oar's time to shine

Fringe Socceroo Michael Zullo believes his FC Utrecht team-mate Tommy Oar can be Australia’s star man at the 2014 World Cup.

Four years ago Oar headed to the Netherlands alongside Zullo and Adam Sarota to join Utrecht, before narrowly missing selection for the 2010 World Cup as an 18-year-old having exploded onto the scene and winning the 2009-10 A-League Young Player of the Year. 

Now 22, Oar has enjoyed another strong season in the Eredivisie and is seen as a key man for the Socceroos in Brazil, having produced a man of the match performance in a vital qualifier away to Japan which ended 1-1.

Oar was also arguably Australia’s best afield in the farewell friendly against South Africa late last month and appears a certain starter against Chile next Saturday morning (AEST).

“I really hope and believe he can have a great World Cup,” Zullo told FourFourTwo.

“He’s had a bit of a journey trying to get the World Cup. He was a bit unlucky last time but obviously he was still quite young.

“It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for him at Utrecht but he’s only getting better.”

On the flipside, Zullo’s other club team-mate Sarota was in the preliminary 30-man squad but didn’t make the plane to Brazil as one of three players cut initially.

Sarota’s omission came after a challenging 18 months for the 25-year-old Cairns product who missed the bulk of 2013 with a cruciate ligament injury in his right knee.

Zullo has spoken to Sarota since coach Ange Postecoglou’s decision to leave him out of the squad

“I’m sure he’s disappointed but he’s another who can be a Socceroo for a long while to come,” Zullo said.

“I don’t think Australia has seen what he’s capable of because he moved over to the Netherlands so early after making his A-League debut.

“A lot of Australians aren’t aware of his quality and what he can do.”

Zullo, who also missed selection after a season long loan at Adelaide, said Sarota would bounce back with a view to the 2015 Asian Cup.

“We’re very good mates and we’ve known each other a long time so I was disappointed for him, but he’s got the same mentality as me,” Zullo said.

“You have to have a thick skin and get on with things. There’s always an opportunity around the corner, so you need to pick yourself up and get on with it.”

Australia face Chile in Cuiaba in its 2014 World Cup opener in Group B at 8am Saturday morning (AEST).