Sunday, October 04, 2009

 

Egyptian Exit

No points from three games, eight goals conceded, only two scored. On the face of it, a pretty miserable showing by the Young Socceroos in Egypt.

Yet there were a few consolations to take away from the tournament, and the way the team started against Brazil showed that this was far from a bunch of no-hopers. Jan Versleijen finally seemed to hit on a cohesive eleven, with Rhyan Grant and the untried Sam Gallagher proving far more appropriate choices in the fullback roles. Perhaps Ante Milicic pressed the claims of his Sydney United protégé Sam Munro, who put in a typically terrier-like effort against the Brazilians.

The question remains, however: after such extensive preparation, shouldn't the Dutchman have discovered his best eleven a little sooner?

Aaron Mooy was probably Australia's best player at the tournament. In those first twenty minutes against Brazil, he directed traffic in midfield very confidently, showing a fine range of passing and good close control at times. If he can add some more mobility to his play, he could well make the step up to the senior side in future years.

Ben Kantarovski is another who returns from North Africa with his reputation enhanced; forced to operate in central defence after the opening game, he adapted well, and showed the calmness under pressure which marked him out as one to watch at Newcastle last season. His partner in defence against Brazil, Ryan McGowan, can hold his head fairly high as well.

James Holland? A disappointment in some ways, but in truth the AZ Alkmaar midfielder has always been somewhat over-rated by Australian pundits. He offers a good first touch, the occasional brilliant pass and a fair work-rate, but he never looks likely to really take control of a game on his own initiative. It will be interesting to see how his European sojourn develops: he has jumped onto the ladder at a fairly high rung, and it would be a shame if a lack of first-team action were to stall his career at a crucial stage, as has happened to Nathan Burns.

The usual suspect has continued to paint the tournament as a stunning novelty for Australian youth teams, which should raise only a laugh for fans with long enough memories. Incidentally, there was a fascinating moment in the SBS studio immediately following the game, from which one could tell a great deal about the current state of Australian football. Les Murray - who does remember that we once produced some outstanding youth teams - asked Paul Okon, a member of that memorable 1991 side, whether Foster's strictures about Australians basically being complete football ignoramuses in the past had any merit.

It was a visibly difficult moment for Okon, who has quite blatantly been earmarked for fast-tracking into the upper echelons of the FFA's coaching structure. To state the obvious truth that he and his 1991 colleagues played far better football than Versleijen's charges would be a solecism in the eyes of the current Dutch overlords, but he could hardly dump on his former team-mates either.

So...he hedged. Mouthing meaningless platitudes about different times, he went on to essentially state the party line, joining in the implicit, undeserved denigration of all those who have done such fine youth development work in the past.

Comments:
God they're muppets. The early 90s youth teams with Okon, Zelic et al are the best we've ever had.
 
Unfortunately I wasn't around to see the great 1991 youth team. So I'm not going to argue.

However did you see The World Game today? Foster did try to address one of your complaints by mentioning some of the great Australian youth side in the past and gave a lot of credit to the NSL ethnics club that developed them.

What did you think about Foster comments about the 1991 team that they did not try to outpossess and attack every team they played against in that tournament? Is that truthful or not?
 
...What did you think about Foster comments about the 1991 team that they did not try to outpossess and attack every team they played against in that tournament? Is that truthful or not?...

Probably a hint of truth to it. IIRC that team employed a sweeper (as very many teams did in those days), so there wasn't sort of high-pressing back four that has become de rigueur these days.

But, well, so what? It was a fine group of players who played excellent football, and it certainly wasn't devoid of attacking ambition. I may have my criticisms of Grumpyguts Scheinflug, but he did have a knack of producing very good youth sides.

Given the choice between a group of players for whom the coach is prepared to find an appropriate strategy and system of play, and a group of players whom the coach is determined to fit into a system no matter whether they're suited to it or not, I'll go with the former, thanks.

Incidentally, one thing that Foz and others have ignored is that until the opposition scored in the first two games, Oz were hardly playing swashbuckling attacking football. It was the usual story of Oz teams lifting impressively when chasing the game, nothing more.
 
"Incidentally, one thing that Foz and others have ignored is that until the opposition scored in the first two games, Oz were hardly playing swashbuckling attacking football."

I think everyone agreed that we played pretty horrible football against Czech Republic. I don't see anyone praising that performance.

Even the likes of Fozz ended up saying that the intentions were good but the execution wasn't there and actually ranted against Jan Versleijen at the end of the match. I was kind of thinking that he was calling for his head.

However I do think that the match against Costa rica we actually controlled the game in the first 30 minutes and played some decent football even before we were chasing the game.

Although saying that, it's nothing to write home about. Out-possessing Costa Rica shouldn't really be considered a seminal moment in Australian footballing history especially when we defeated them every time beforehand.
 
I wasn't around to see the 1991 U-20 team either, but (just speaking of a lot of new fans to the game in general here) it shouldn't be too hard to acknowledge or at least respect the consensus that teams like that had very commendable campaigns and that there's still a lot to learn from and admire about them.

"What did you think about Foster comments about the 1991 team that they did not try to outpossess and attack every team they played against in that tournament?"

Personally, to think we, Australia, a country of only 21 million and with football not the primary sport in the country by any means, should do that at any level is kind of ludicrous.

I don't want to see us or think we're suited to playing backs-to-the-wall, long ball and ultra defensive football much either (look at the last Olympics), but it seems like we're trend-setting world leaders with credentials to win the World Cup sometime soon going by how some carry on about the way forward for Oz football.
 
Fozzie went further on the World Game on Sunday, sort of answering your criticism. He sort of conceded that the 'Okon era Young Socceroos' were indeed very good, and to explain it espoused his racial theory of football style; "Croatians know how to play football" (self evident). As you might guess, it was British coaches who (despite any major shift in the ethnic makeup of the tam) managed to cause them to forget how to play football, leaving it to the Dutchmen to teach them again. Or something like that.

Now I don't even remember this ancient era, and for the best of my intuition there is probably a grain of truth in Fozzie's theory, but frankly he comes accross as passionately incoherent at best and a raving loonie at worst.

But I have to defend the man, because I love the independnce SBS have apparently given him. 'Independent' of course doesn't mean correct, coherent or unbiased, it just means that Fozzie's comments are best described as Fozzie's. The football mediascape would be poorer without him.

Mad as a cut snake though.
 
sorry to disagree but I actually watched ALL of the 91 matches.

yes there were some very good players , Okon in particular indeed I doubt if Okon ever played as well again although he rarely played sweeper again!!! ( I do not recall Zelic at all).
Yes they played well but not with the panache Fozzie is advocating alah Guus.

We simply has some quite talented guys who played well. However they were not as talented as we thought at the time as most did not progress.

Fozzie makes some very good points. possession football and clear crisp passing being but two points he clearly and rightfully supports.
The 91 team was good at neither.
 
...sorry to disagree but I actually watched ALL of the 91 matches.

yes there were some very good players , Okon in particular indeed I doubt if Okon ever played as well again although he rarely played sweeper again!!! ( I do not recall Zelic at all).
Yes they played well but not with the panache Fozzie is advocating alah Guus....

Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on that. What about the 1993 side (Milicic, Agostino, Muscat, Moore, Tsekenis etc.)? Wins over Colombia, Russia, Uruguay, all in pretty good style? Not all that impressive?

...We simply has some quite talented guys who played well. However they were not as talented as we thought at the time as most did not progress....

Youth tournaments are hopeless indicators of future NT success, as I've constantly remarked.

Which, by the way, means that this current mob may still have plenty to offer in the future.
 
"Yes they played well but not with the panache Fozzie is advocating alah Guus."

The same panache with which all of our five World Cup goals basically originated from putting the ball into the mixer? ;-)

(and yes I do recognise and will be the first to also argue that we played our fair share of good possession football in Germany otherwise)

But I'd also argue that anyone judging the football played by the 1991 U-20s by comparing it to (some of) the football played by the senior NT under Guus is being unfair. A far more appropriate comparison would be between the late 2005-mid 2006 and 1997 Socceroos, both of which had high profile, part-time, short-term foreign coaches.
 
Mike,
in that tournament we were impressive until it got to their quarter so to speak.

I was always hoping for goals not expecting them.
Yes we did have a good defence but only Okon knew what to do coming out of defence which is what Fozzie has been saying for yonks.

If we had have had today's coaching with them who knows what may have happened ans who knows how far some of the players could have gone.

I would have loved to coach both Zelic and Okon in the same team.
When one came forward the other could move back. The Opposition would have been at sixes and sevens
 
It's interesting that even Foz is starting to backtrack vis-a-vis some past U20 teams - perhaps Les had a word in his ear. Now apparently (given his comments on TWG yesterday) the line is that "the great early nineties sides had their quality thanks to their development at the NSL clubs, it was those BRITISH coaches at the institutes who ruined things."

There's more holes in that argument than Swiss cheese, but never mind.

...A far more appropriate comparison would be between the late 2005-mid 2006 and 1997 Socceroos, both of which had high profile, part-time, short-term foreign coaches...

Was El Tel part-time? I know he was still doing a lot of, erm, "business" for Pompey while he was here, but Oz was his only actual senior coaching job at the time, no?

Anyway, fully agree with you about the criteria for comparison.
 
Australia may be his only job Venables had at the time but I think people consider Venables part time because he never lived in Australia and he resided in Europe during the job.
 
Brazil and Costa Rica were both from our group and are in one semi. So we had a very very tough group. But still, I would have liked us to played more sensibly.
 
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