Sunday, November 18, 2007
Sadly, because goal difference rather than head-to-head record is used to separate teams in the Asian Olympic qualifiers, the Olyroos are not quite home and dry just yet; they need to get a result against North Korea in Pyongyang on Wednesday, since Iraq will probably defeat Lebanon comfortably on home turf.
2-0, frankly, was better than the Olyroos deserved in a match which certainly showed up a few weaknesses in the youngsters' arsenal. True, Burns and Djite were absent, which did affect matters. But although Australia settled the more quickly and posed plenty of early danger (thanks mainly to the penetration offered by James Troisi on the left wing), when the Iraqis started pressing after conceding the opener, Graham Arnold's charges gave away the ball dreadfully cheaply at times, and often looked flat-footed by comparison to the Iraqis, especially in midfield.
I'm surprised that Ruben Zadkovich continues to be picked for the Olyroos in midfield; although he is full of running and occasionally makes himself useful in an attacking capacity, he is not really of international standard. When Nick Ward replaced him in the second half, Australia's general play improved markedly.
Another, rather more unexpected, worry is Danny Vukovic's distribution. The young Mariners keeper is a fine shot-stopper, his handling is good and his movement off his line is fairly sound, although there's certainly room for improvement there. But both his clearances and his goal-kicks were often badly misplaced last night - one of the many reasons why the Iraqis managed to dominate possession for long periods.
It's to be hoped that Graham Arnold doesn't approach the game in Pyongyang with an over-defensive mentality. If the Iraqis had offered better final balls and/or a capable finisher during their period of dominance, when Australia largely sat back, they would surely have come away from Gosford with a result.
I had to laugh at the desperate looks on the Iraqi players' faces when Williams was being stretchered off near the end.
Absolutely. Not really much in that, and as you say, he had the other bloke on his as well. The Iraqi keeper was definitely their actor-in-chief...luckily he didn't find a compliant ref to help him on this occasion.
...And on a final note, can everyone stop going on about the fact that we will be playing against North Korea on an artificial pitch. Its a fact that has been known for a long time and it smacks of looking for excuses before the game has been played if the result doesn't go our way....
If that excuse is good enough for Steve McLaren, it's good enough for GA. ;-)
Vuko's distribution has been awful all season (I personally hate his lack of consistent follow-through when kicking from the hands). I think it's something that Crawley really needs to focus on, or that the FFA step in and hire a specialist goal-kicking coach. It would be an investment for the future.
Mulligan should have been red carded.
It was the luck of the draw that we got a really REALLY lenient Asian referee
i have complained that A-league refs are too lenient... but this guy was incredible...
Honestly if we get European refs at the olympics and Milligan does that.. say hello to Mr Red.
As for the actual game well what to say.. i for one wasnt that impressed, we wernt playing out from the back at all really.. just lumping it forward and often it would go out....