Sunday, July 29, 2007
With Respect to Asia
Yes, the Omanis did indulge in some time-wasting in our opening game at the Asian Cup. Yes, there was the occasional instance of questionable behaviour from our opposition and lax officiating in the other games. But we are surely used to this in Asia by now, and it does not alter the fact that we were outplayed by Oman, dismally poor against Iraq, somewhat lucky to defeat the Thais by such a solid margin, and never particularly threatening against Japan.
Grella's refrain of "we didn't get no respect" sounds pitifully shallow when you consider his own words:
We have players in the best leagues in the world and I don't even know the names of half their team.
How very respectful.
It is consistent, however, with the attitude adopted by the Australian players in the lead-up to the tournament, which was singularly disrespectful of their opposition. The way they approached their opening two matches, too, proceeding at a snail's pace and considering tracking runners and marking up unnecessary against Asian opposition, did not imply a great deal of respect either.
For Grella to complain about pre-game baiting and provocative goal celebrations, given his long experience of Italian football, is disingenuous.
We may not particularly admire the time-wasting tactics of some Asian sides, and we may curse the fact that our "physical" reputation so plainly influences referees in matches involving Australian teams. But after a tournament in which our national team simply did not deserve to progress any further than it did, play-acting or no play-acting, poor refereeing or not, it is simply undignified (especially coming from a player who performed as poorly as Grella did) to blame the opposition's theatrics.
Of course, the SBS crew know very well what caused the Socceroos' relative failure in the Asian Cup - and they have the empty rhetoric and the tendentious generalizations to prove it.
These are problems that are giving teams a significant head start over us with some refs (not all), as we're seen as some sort of big, bad brutes. FWIW, Takahara did it again to the South Koreans last night, so Australia is certainly not alone in this regard.
Admittedly, I found the 'sledging' comments quite strange given that I thought the Uruguay WCQs were sledge-a-thons in comparison with anything at the AC, with both teams equally guilty in the Sydney leg. The difference between that Australian team and the current one is that Hiddink seemed to have the team disciplined enough to never be sucked in to the other teams' antics. This team was just not focused, and Grella's outburst is a symptom of that.
My only disappointment is that Vinnie didn't admit that we were utterly crap throughout and deserved to be eliminated earlier. Unfortunately, that hides the fact that many of his observations have some truth to them, and will perhaps be dismissed as a case of sour grapes, while the real issues are forgotten....
It does need to be raised - it's been a constant pain since the Asia move - but publicly it needs to be done diplomatically and the timing needs to be apt.
Comments like Vinnie's are only going to make us still more unpopular in Asia, and won't do an ounce of good in stamping out the fake breaks and the weak refereeing, IMHO.
but that is another story.
As Fozzie has stated we were outplayed by every team we played including Singapore.
We were hopeless. you get respect by playing good football as we did in the World Cup.
People rarely learn from successes and we certainly didn't from the world cup.
Hopefully Mark will ref the final well tonight.
If he'd stuck to only commenting on the grass rolling antics etc, it would have been OK in my book, but his accusations about 'lack of respect' are just ridiculous. He only succeeded in making himself look foolish.
Just caught your debate with Hilly after you mentioned it. I didn't think I'd ever see you two arguing. :o)
I hope we don't call on him again. Let him go make money in Europe. We need to make friends through sport here in Asia.
In my view only the weak teams wasted time. And why shouldn't they? They are representing their country at the peak of their career too. They have to do what they can to entertain their fans (not ours).