Thursday, July 12, 2007
The Usual Suspects
Although Uzbekistan played with great energy and refreshing enterprise, Iran simply had too much quality in the end. The arrival at half-time of the right-winger Javad Kazemian - a revelation - was ultimately decisive, but others played their part in the second-half revival as well; not least Ali Karimi, breaking into his stride in midfield from time to time, and Bolton's Andranik Teymourian, contributing to Iran's attack far more in the second period. It was he who slid that magnificent ball inside the fullback for Kazemian to score the winner.
Iran have their problems in defence, though. The veteran Rahman Rezaei was caught out regularly for pace, as indeed he was at the World Cup. Furthermore, three times during the match, the astute Uzbek midfielder Timur Kapadze slipped into the Iranian box completely unnoticed, to steal a chance for himself (and one of those chances required a save which owed more to luck than judgement). Tim Cahill, take note.
Overall, it was a very entertaining game, particularly in the second half. And despite Iran's defensive mishaps, they went some way towards establishing their favouritism.
The evening's other match was tough, tight and frenetic. One wonders if either side will be able to maintain the tempo of their opening game, which they were both clearly determined not to lose.
Korea may be without Park Ji-Sung, but they still possess a very capable winger in Yeom Ki-Hun, who posed plenty of danger on the left last night. Cho Jae-Jin does not appear to have the same poise in front of goal as the missing Seol Ki-Hyeon, but he is sure to trouble most defences at the tournament.
The Saudis appear somewhat more nimble than they did at the last World Cup, and with the enthusiastic Malek al-Hawsawi racing all around the forward line, they are far from blunt in attack. Yasser Al-Qahtani, however, was understandably below his best.
A final thought: rather than bewailing the fact that this event now appears such a minefield for the underdone Socceroos, let's be glad that we now have the chance to compete in a regional international tournament of some substance.
Yeeees. But let's hope we have more than two more games. I have a bad feeling about the game tomorrow night, for three reasons:
a) We played terribly on Sunday night.
b) It's Friday 13th.
c) Australia has some pretty serious karma issues with Iraq. Over on Eamonn's Asia Cup Blog I learn that every Iraqi player has lost family in the war that... um... we kind of started (amongst others).
But win, lose or draw thank God we're in Asia. I'll take a poor perfomance against Oman in a meaningful competition over thrashing American Samoa in the Oceanic equivalent.
ps Mikey check your PM on sfcu :)
A pathetic farce from start to finish, IMO...but then I'm old fashioned. ;-)
...ps Mikey check your PM on sfcu :)...
Cheers, have replied (through the snotty tissues...).
From memory, the Iraqi Olympic side treated our players with generosity and understanding in 2004...I don't think there'll be too many suspicious over-the-ball tackles, put it that way.