Sunday, July 01, 2007
Australia could have conceded several times, not least when a Singapore corner late in the first half found their shrewd striker Indra completely unmarked in the box. Good job for Graham Arnold that his positioning appears to be better than his finishing.
There are still a few concerns with the Asian Cup in mind. The use of Luke Wilkshire at left-back was not a notable success, with his right-footedness ensuring that he provided little in the way of penetration on the overlap.
Neither Patrick Kisnorbo nor Michael Beauchamp gave any reason to believe that they will be reliable partners for Lucas Neill in the centre of defence; Beauchamp again showed his vulnerability to quick little strikers playing up close to him, while Kisnorbo looked uncertain throughout. Neill, too, made a most uncharacteristic error in the first half to allow Indra clean through on goal.
On the plus side, it was good to see Kewell back and looking confident. The final goal, in which he and Mark Viduka – still our two finest players – combined so beautifully, was the sort of goal Socceroo fans have long been praying for. Elegant run and cross from Kewell, accurate header by his former Leeds team-mate. A sight for sore eyes.
Brett Holman had another frustrating evening. Playing (I felt) too far behind the lone striker once more, he found himself at the end of most of Australia’s better moves, but his finishing was disappointing. Archie Thompson, by contrast, seemed in good touch, despite his relative lack of recent match practice; perhaps a Viduka-Thompson axis should be the approach against Oman?
The conditions certainly played their part in a sluggish first-half performance from the ’roos, but it was pleasing to note that their opponents, if anything, seemed to tire even more readily in the second. With another week to acclimatize, hopefully Arnold’s men can enhance their endurance levels still further.
Australia's midfield play however was often beautiful to watch. I love those fast, sharp triangulating passes, especially when they're threading among the opposition. On those skills, Australia was all over Singapore.
But yes the defense did let us down a bit and if it was not for our world class goalkeeper, and a bit of luck, we could easilly have been down at half time. There were stretches where I couldn't help thinking, 'this is not a team that can win the Asia Cup.'
Like you though, Kewell's final goal gave me some heart.
Once again I was completely alone in the pub watching the game, and almost wasn't allowed a screen due to some rugby game. As long as Fox monopolises all of Australian football, it will not grow in Australian popular culture. The more people realise the raw truth of that equation and speak up about it, the sooner football can enjoy another period of growth in our country. "Socceroos on the anti-siphoning list" should be an election issue.
This lone voice will simply and publically refuse to get Fox until they find a way to let go of Socceroos games, which are the key to mass Australian interest. When they do I will get Fox for A-League and international games. In a couple of months I should at least be able to afford it.
Do we have a team capable of winning the tournament? Maybe, but somehow I don't think we will. The conditions are bound to play a part, and even if we get through the first round OK, the sapping effect of so many games in that sort of humidity is bound to tell at some point.
Another thing: I've got a feeling one of the West Asian teams (Saudi Arabia probably) will win it this time. Japan and Korea both seem to be missing a few top guys.
I have a feeling players like Neill and Grella in particular don't necessarily lift themselves on occasions such as these.
The only difference in our preparation this time is that the full-strength team hasn't had a Holland-esque friendly before the so-called cannon fodder. I honestly believe the second half of that match against the Oranje was a defining moment for our team in being able to handle top drawer opposition, after a particularly torrid opening half.
I'm not reading too much into last night, although Beauchamp was exposed yet again for lack of mobility and/or poor positioning against quick, tricky forwards.
Once again, I get the impression that Luke Wilkshire's shoes were superglued to the floor while Arnie asked for a 'volunteer' to perform another shit-kicker role.
On Holman/Thompson, I have to agree there. Plenty of people north of the Murray like to ridicule Archie in the G & G, but I think he's performed reasonably well on the whole when given an opportunity. He certainly adds spark, but I suppose the question is whether he should be an impact player in the Carle mould?
Once again though, the difference in our inventiveness when Kewell is on or off the park is worryingly stark. We truly look pedestrian in the final third without him....
If Harry's fit, I still think we can go all the way.
Holeman and Sterjoski both seem to be missing that spark in the final third, although Bresciano always looked like he might create something he just didn't get the support he needed.
I'd like to see Kewell and Bresc on the field together, and Culina pushed out wide, I know he prefers to play in centre midfield but all the best games I've seem him play (for club or country) have been with him on the wing.
I think one problem is that he's often been asked to play out wide (e.g. v. Uruguay in Montevideo and v. Kuwait last August), where he's not so effective; he's good at drifting out wide occasionally to catch the defence off guard, but it's not really where he belongs IMO.
He and Dooks could make a good combination. But sadly, I think Arnie is going to stick resolutely to his lone striker plan...
He and Dooks could make a good combination. But sadly, I think Arnie is going to stick resolutely to his lone striker plan..."
I've often thought they'd work well together - even last night there was one instance before the 3rd goal where Archie played a deceptively clever one touch pass with his left foot to Dooks, but he blasted high with his unfavoured left. It was only a brief moment, but when I saw that I immediately thought to myself 'Aussie forwards actually making combinations?' - it's something I'd almost forgotten we are capable of - we just need the correct system.
There is a valid argument that Archie doesn't perform against quality defenders, but he could well be a decent option in the AC.
Arnie has also hinted that Kewell could be partnering Dooks from a deeper position, but surely HK would be better utilised as a provider who can score the occasional goal?
Looking long-term, if Moore's gone for good, Kisnorbo and Beauchamp's current weaknesses have already been mentioned. Milligan might be too much like Neill. From what I've seen of Spiranovic, pace isn't his strong point and he might have trouble against mobile, quick strikers at the moment too, although he's still very young and got a lot of developing to do yet. Leijer's probably the "new" centre-back most similar to Moore I reckon, but he's still quite green and got a way to go yet in terms of proving himself.
In terms of the Asian Cup, your comment about Laybutt was well considered, I gotta say.
But long term, it might not be so bad. If their club careers continue to improve then Kisnorbo (with a move into the Premiership I guess) and Beauchamp (with more action in the Bundesliga) could improve their reading of the game sufficiently to make the step up for the 2010 WC campaign, while Milligan, Spiranovic and Leijer have plenty of time ahead of them.
All that said, it'd be nice to see Beauchamp get his chance as a starter if he is to play. Whenever I've seen him at Nuremberg as a starter, he's looked composed and sure of himself unlike many of his recent Oz outings. Maybe I'm reading too much into it but I don't like him as a substitute. In fact I think it's time to give him or Thwaite a chance of a full game as a CD, since Kisnorbo's had plenty of opportunities in the last several months and not totally convinced.
Buddy i agree with you 100% here, its so sad that football in this country has reached this state. SBS just dont have the money to compete with fox... and our game is getting screwed over because of it..
i thought we were meant to be moving forward!, What is limiting our NT to foxtel doing??
Well, the glib answer to that is "helping to make the A-League sustainable", of course.
It's a far from ideal situation, but with large debts to clear up fron the old administration, a new league with no existing infrastructure to kick-start, and new competitions in Asia to enter which are generally money-drainers, at the moment we don't have much choice.
You do feel bad for SBS though.
Re the Viduka/Holman axis in this game, I wouldnt be surprised that given Holman failed to grab his chance again (after Uruguay), Arnold goes with either Kewell or Cahill in behind the big man, with the other coming off the bench...it'll just be a case of how much he feels each of them could handle.
Again, he could stick with same four man attack (I noticed it was very similar to the one aganst China)and keep both Kewell and Cahill in reserve should things not be going according to plan.
As I've touched on in my piece, the good thing is he has options, at least in attack.
Defensively? well, that's another story. More work needed there this week.
Also, don't forget, Aloisi has finally joined the squad. I'm sure Arnie considers him ahead of both Holman and Thompson. How do you see his role?
Arnie seems quite firm on the lone striker thing and Viduka is in excellent form, so I would imagine Aloisi's role would be as a late sub for a tiring Dooks. I for one would love to see them (or some other two-striker combination) playing together from the outset, but it probably won't happen.
This is where I think a natural left footer in Carney should have been given a go. Left Back is the most difficult position for right footers to play, they can pass and strike the ball with their left, but when it comes to tackling with the left, this is where they are found wanting.
Would it work against strong opposition?
Would it work against strong opposition?...
TBH, I thought he was fairly conservative against Singapore, and he was still getting caught out on occasion.