Monday, January 7, 2019

Socceroos require more humility as well as ability

I do not see Australia’s 1-0 loss to Jordan last night in the 2019 Asian Championship as a surprise.

We were very lucky to even be Asian champions in the first place and, if ever hosting a tournament gave one an advantage, the 2015 tournament in Australia was it.

The Socceroos were very ordinary and the win against South Korea in the 2015 final was a surprise.

We were also extremely lucky to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.  It required a marathon effort in terms of travel and number of games played to achieve qualification.

That was hardly the stuff of a confederation champion.

It happens to other countries, too, of course.

Germany, the World champions, did not get beyond the group stages of the last World Cup, so we are in illustrious company in a way.

It is true that against Jordan last night, the Socceroos were missing key players through injury.

The absence of Matt Leckie, Andrew Nabbout, Martin Boyle, Aaron Mooy and Daniel Arzani was a blow, but the job of the national-team coach is to cut one’s coat according to one’s cloth.

The first half-performance against Jordan was poor and we might well have been 2-0, or 2-1, down at the interval but for a fine fingertip save by keeper Matt Ryan from a vicious Jordanian free-kick.

We probably should have had a penalty, hence the possibility of a 2-1 deficit at half-time.

Australia’s players are technically deficient.  Not one inspires confidence in tight situations, and the shooting skills are woeful.

How does Tom Rogic command a place in the Celtic team when he misses sitters like the late one against Jordan?  The ball came to him on his preferred left foot, 12 yards from goal, and he skied it high over the bar.

It was very disappointing for a so-called international striker, with his side desperately needing a goal.  It’s moments like these that separate the men from the boys.  Oh for Martin Boyle.

Australia had 77 per cent possession and lost.  That sort of statistic is becoming more common as teams intent on dominating possession lose to teams with a direct approach.

Australia try to play the possession game but are not up to it.

I was appalled at the kick-off.  We began the game by kicking off backwards, which is, unfortunately, the trend nowadays, and we were forced to give it our own keeper before we played a ball forward.  If that isn’t negative play, I don’t what is.

Awer Mabil was a glimmer of light amid the darkness.  He loves to attack and he was desperately unlucky not to score when his blistering shot struck the near post and rebounded into play.  He deserved to equalise.

The Socceroos did have the ball in the net at a late stage, but it was off-side.

The Australians were also lucky not to concede a penalty.

In summary, we are bigger than our boots.  We are a mediocre side, and to lose to a side that is ranked 109th in FIFA’s list of world rankings, is a disgrace.

It’s a bad time for Australian international sports teams and the Socceroos proved it once again.

A little more humility would go a long way towards accepting such set-backs.

As for retaining the Asian title, pigs will fly first.


Zlatko Belanic said...

So true, and love your honesty Walter....we are so lame at National and the A-League is so stale...our technical skills have dropped and this all possession and no penetration has shows our weakness at the pointy ends of the park.
Quality high disciplined defending and ruthlessness in attack with venom shooting has disappeared in favour or over possession that has bored the more flair..and don't even start about the modern goalkeeping!?!?Can anyone catch a ball anymore???Or throw themselves at feet and dive ,so many standing still and watching ,static position, getting nutmegged..

Walter said...

Hi Zlatko.
I endorse your comments on the goalkeeping.
The Jordanian keeper is a show pony. I don't think he caught the ball once. He preferred to make spectacular and completely unnecessary dives and punch the ball instead of taking an easy catch, which a goalkeeper worth his salt would do with eyes closed.
And yet, we were unable to punish this behaviour.

Brian Young said...

Has the game really progressed in Australia; don't think so. It did for a while and now we are back to deluding ourselves about our players' skill and ability to cope on the world stage. The skill in the final third of the pitch and ability to score when not playing well has totally evaporated since the era of the Golden Generation (relatively Golden!!!).

It is difficult to know how this situation can improve. The current Joeys are poor.

Where to go?

Anonymous said...

Hi Walter. I think your comment should read it is 'a bad time for MALE international sport teams'. Our national women's teams are doing pretty well.