FORMER Sydney FC star Dwight Yorke has warned Australia it faces a "desperate fight" to host the 2018 World Cup - but believes a tournament here would be an unqualified success.
He also warned that the A-League had gone backwards since his time with Sydney FC and needed to rediscover its spark.
Yorke is uniquely qualified to judge the merits of an Australian World Cup bid - not only gracing the A-League and the last World Cup, but also close to Trinidad boss and FIFA powerbroker Jack Warner.
"I think you need something like a World Cup to allow the game to really blossom in Australia," he said. "You guys have got the facilities - you've had the Olympics when the world saw what a great event you could put on.
"I know Jack (Warner) and the other FIFA delegates have visited your country so they all know what you're capable of doing in terms of facilities, weather-wise and so on - advantages you've got in abundance. It's just whether you can convince enough people.
"To be honest, 2018 is going to be difficult because the likes of England are desperate to get it and there are a host of countries who want it, too.
"England hasn't had it since 1966. They're footballing nations, which does give them an advantage over Australia - but I really wouldn't give up faith, if it's not in 2018 then you'd still have a very good chance in 2022."
Still a close follower of the A-League, the 37-year-old said FIFA would want to see a thriving domestic competition, and he warned that the league he helped launch needed reinvigorating.
"I keep my eyes on the league - I know the attendances are down, the spectacle maybe isn't as intense just now," he said.
"That's a bit of a disappointment, after seeing how much excitement there was when I first came to the country. You look at Sydney getting 8500 people - I know there's a credit crunch on, and people have to look to save money, but to have 30,000 people when I was first playing and come down to 8000 isn't a good look.
"They need something to spark the league a bit. We get to see the highlights over here, and just talking as a fan something seems to be missing."