Wednesday, February 06, 2008
And didn't the team respond to his vote of confidence in the first half! Qatar were ripped apart on the flanks, Scott McDonald peeling off to the left to good effect on a number of occasions, thereby allowing Mark Bresciano to make those dangerous diagonal runs into the box which Jorge Fossati would remember only too well. David Carney, too, played a crucial role in Australia's penetration down the left, both overlapping and pushing up to provide the option for a quick give-and-go at times.
On the other wing, Brett Emerton (probably the man of the match) and Luke Wilkshire showed impressive positional fluidity, with the former more right-winger than right-back in the first period.
And, of course, the physical threat of Josh Kennedy up front was crucially important, particularly in terms of creating space for the other attackers. With Mark Viduka's star on the wane, Kennedy will surely be one of the key players in this qualifying campaign.
It helped Australia's cause that Qatar were so feeble in defence, their communication in particular leaving much to be desired. The goalkeeper, Mohammed Saqr, will not remember the second goal with any fondness, but there were plenty of other panicky moments.
The second half was far less impressive from an Australian point of view, but there have been several parallels in the recent Socceroo past, especially the game against China in Guangzhou. That Qatar occasionally managed to penetrate out wide, given our fullbacks' propensity to stay upfield, was not surprising; perhaps more worrisome was the fact that the elusive Khalfan Ibrahim, who positioned himself in the hole throughout, often looked like breaking through our central defence.
Verbeek's substitutions were perhaps not the ideal ones, either. Mark Bresciano, after an excellent first half, was fading noticeably in the second, and the logical introduction of Carl Valeri should maybe have been made at the expense of Bresciano rather than Tim Cahill. As for Craig Moore's departure, sentimentality is all very well, but Brett Holman as replacement, leaving Emerton to fulfil a central defensive role? Three-goal buffer or not, it was a strange move.
And now that Moore is gone, who will plug the hole in central defence? All of the recent candidates have shown themselves to be intermittently fallible...it won't be an easy choice for our new supremo.
Yet one shouldn't dwell on the small negatives to emerge from the evening. Verbeek's side played fluent, positive, effective football for 45 minutes, and a campaign which offers so many pitfalls has begun comfortably.
This match was like THAT match against Iran.
Onlt this time we were three up at half time instead of six.
We missed some goals in the second half. okay JA is mostly going to miss goalsat international level but not Timmy.
In China tiredness from our Euopeans may start earlier.
It's possible, but then they won't have quite as far to travel for that one. The connections might be awkward though, they might need to get to Kunming via Guangzhou, or something equally awkward.
Qatar just need some resolve and self believe like Iraq and have skill to test Australia . They were just not as professional as the Aussies.
A League teams should be trying to recruit players such as the Ibrahims and Afifis of Asia instead of some of the useless South Americans they have so far recruited.
We couldn't afford them. They're getting serious money in the Gulf, and they wouldn't change all their circumstances unless they were getting a significant increase in pay (which would be marquee money for the A-League clubs).
I don't see a problem with targeting South/Central Americans per se. But I think the mistake that the A-League clubs made last season was more or less limiting themselves to Brazilians.
If this is specifically the case then let economic pragmatism rule and I don't have any problems with that. But some players in Asia are worth the marquee budget and yet are not pursued. Some are worth the marquee price but will probably come for significantly less and are not pursued. In the Asian cup, a couple of the Malaysian players should have been must get targets, the right back for instance, but didn't the slightest indication from the clubs that they were pursuing those options.
It's criminal to discount players whose qualities are there for everyone to see and everyone saw and instead recruit players past who no one knows in the first place and then prove to be worse than the discounted.
Don't believe the Brazilians. If they can dupe Europeans they can dupe us too.