“90 minutes, 90 emotions” – A –League advertising campaign.
So imagine what a week in football does to a supporter!
And what a week it was in Australian football. The debacle in Durban, the media circus and fallout that followed, a(nother) controversial sending off and finally, some redemption in Rustenburg.
The Socceroos’ World Cup campaign hangs by a thread but Australia’s draw with Ghana was a sharp reminder of what is possible in a green and gold shirt.
Pim Verbeek’s tactics against Germany were negative and nonsensical. Further, the Socceroos appeared devoid of pace, creativity and passion. The performance against Ghana however, was a drastic improvement and the 10 men who remained on the field at Royal Bafokeng can hold their heads high.
It was by no means a perfect performance. The technical limitations that were brutally exposed by the Germans did not just disappear – Brett Emerton’s positioning and lack of assistance to his teammate, Luke Wilkshire on the cross which led to “that penalty” (more on that in Part II) was disappointing, Jason Culina was at times, easily dispossessed of the ball in the middle of the park and Craig “need I say Moore” still looked as slow as I am the morning after my end of financial year work function.
But at least he and the boys played with more vigour, motivation and heart. All this, whilst playing a majority of the match with 10 men in damage limitation mode and then going for broke in the last 20 minutes of the match.
Pim Verbeek too, left the bus at home, gave the engine(room) a grease and oil change and won the tactical battle as best as he could have hoped to with a man down. His introduction of Scott Chipperfield in the second half was a masterstroke. For now at least, I must revert back to lamenting his choice in hairdresser rather than tactics….
Should our journey end on Thursday as is expected, it may be a fitting nod to the future that the Socceroos will be without the suspended Kewell and Moore for the match against Serbia – both of which will be replaced by younger players, Kennedy (or Holman) and Beauchamp, respectively. It’s quite ironic then that Pim (who has consistently relied on the class of 2006) will be forced to finally look forward himself and “blood” some new, younger players in what will more than likely be his last game in charge of the Socceroos. At minimum, he might have a belated chance to leave a legacy of players prepared for the 2014 qualifying campaign.
Finally, last week in my “Australia vs Germany….” blog I bemoaned that the Australian football team that took the field against Germany played with fear, lacked fighting spirit and dare I say it, were “un-Australian”. I make no apologies for those remarks and stand by them.
I believe every team at the World Cup ought to showcase the country and the culture it represents.
By that I mean the Germans ought to play a disciplined game, the Brazilians should strut the park as if it were a dancefloor, the Italians ought to look as sharp as a Milanese catwalk (if only they started playing and not just look like that!) and as for the Poms they should do what they do best….whinge!
That’s what makes the World Cup so beautiful and riveting. It is what gives it its flavour and the countries that participate in it, a sense of footballing identity.
It was this need to revert to being Australian and to mirror the national character that was at the heart of Australia’s excellent performance against Ghana.
It was a shame though that such a spirited and uplifting display went largely unrewarded. The Socceroos really needed a win. Progression to the knockout rounds now looks slim. Our boys must now beat the slick and defensively solid Serbians and hope that Ghana beats Germany. Having said that, if they put in another “Aussie style” performance against Serbia, there would be no dishonour in even finishing last in what is surely the tournament’s most finely poised group.
Before I sign off, I must digress and pay some praise to Chile and in particular their Argentinean born gaffer, Marcelo Bielsa. Bielsa’s sides regularly seek to attack and his Chile team was a breath of fresh air in its World Cup opener against Honduras. Nicknamed El Loco (“the Madman”) for his unusual and passionate style, obsessive nature and focus on discipline, Bielsa has revolutionised football in Chile, changing the players’ mentality to take “The Reds” to the World Cup after a twelve year absence.
In short, he should be cloned.
Rumours persist that Bielsa will not lead the Chilean national team after this World Cup and that Frenchman, Paul LeGuen will replace Pim Verbeek.
I have been reasonably satisfied with the “Poffertjes” Football Federation Australia has served at the dining room table that is Australian football in the last three years.
It’s time to spice things up and add some “Chile” to the menu though.
Marcelo, “come play”!
Mark “The ‘F’ Word” Fiorenti – discussing all things concerning the World Game.