Thursday, April 2, 2009

2-0 to the Socceroos

"We're playing like we did under Hiddink - same passing and movement off the ball - only without the flair, the pace or the dynamism."

- one of my many pearls of wisdom; I should be writing calender quotes.

Pim Verbeek looks unkempt and dishevelled. He's got a permanent frown on his face, like he's just heard that his wife's had her face mauled off by his rabid puppy, which subsequently needed to be put down. He's a sad looking fellow, and he wears the burden of expectation with the sobriety and seriousness of a 17th century Dutch merchant.

I saw Pim last night on Foxtel HD, in all his warts and glory. Not a pretty sight. He'd just guided Australia (almost) through to the World Cup next year, and he STILL looked pissed off. Didn't crack a smile. Didn't say he was pleased. Didn't even rip off his shirt and spirit across Telstra Stadium whooping with unabashed joy.

For Pim, qualification was the target and he achieved it. That's it. Nothing to be fussed about.

I suppose there's not a lot to be cheerful about. We played pretty badly in the first half. Uzbekistan played with a 4-5-1, and their midfield line were so deep that they could reach over and shake hands with their defenders. We lacked the wit to play through-balls, and we lacked the pace to go down the flanks. Consequently, there was a lot of back-passing and side-passing, and a lot of players not knowing how the heck to break down that defence. It was like watching Arsenal in the bad old months of 2008.

I hadn't seen the Socceroos for a long, long time, and it was a bit of a shock to see them play this badly. Bresciano's a gun, but he can't do it on his own. Kewell's lost his pace, and is a shadow of his former self. Culina and Valeri are honest triers, but they're not inventive. It's scary to think how much we rely on Timmy Cahill. Without his runs and his nose for goal, we're pretty blunt.

It got better in the second half, when the Uzbeks started to tire and space opened up for our midfielders. First goal was a header from Josh Kennedy, after Bresciano slipped his marker and crossed from the right. Second goal was a penalty after a Uzbek defender tried to hip-and-shoulder one of our boys. We played pretty decent football in the second half, but I'm worried. In the World Cup, we're not going to be able to rely on teams tiring in the second half. A lot of sides will be tactically continent for the whole 90 minutes, and if we're going to progress past the group stage, we'll need players who can split open a well-marshalled defence. From what I've seen, we don't have that.

Still, we'll let Pim Verbeek worry about that. 2-0 to the Socceroos, and we're going to South Africa! Better start booking those plane tickets....


Patt said...

Why bother weg? u probably gona get robbed by Italy again.
Anyway did u apply for your world cup tickets yet?

Connolly's agent said...

Don't remind me, Patt. I still have nightmares about Fabio Grosso. And I'll wait until the weekend. Too much effort to buy at work.

GPS Justin said...

It's ANZ stadium, by the way