Sunday, June 20, 2010

Australia 1, Ghana 1

The thing that's missing from this World Cup is the sense of destiny. In 2006, it was Australia's first appearance in 32(?) years. Every match had special meaning. Japan was our first game, and and a look at our future in the Asian Confederation. Brazil was a sign that we'd actually arrived on the biggest stage. Croatia was a reminder of where the migrant roots of football in Australia. In 2010, though, that sense of occasion is missing. This time around, it's simply a case of facing three tough teams and trying scrape together enough points to qualify.

The other thing that we're missing is jammy luck. Against Germany, we played like crap and lost 4-0. We lost Cahill after a weak red card. Against Ghana, we played well, got 1-0 up, and then lost Kewell for a handball, conceded a penalty, and ended up drawing 1-1. We had a couple of good chances (Chipperfield missing a point-blank header, Kennedy missing an open goal) but couldn't convert. In 2006, we had similar set-backs, but made up for it with jammy late goals that got us through.

I think we played well after Kewell got sent off. It was a good performance: nice range of passing, nice build-up work, crap finishing. We persisted with Holman as lone-striker for too long. We were a lot more effective once Chipperfield and Kennedy had been subbed on. If we'd had those two substitutions at half-time, we might've won it. It goes to show what the Socceroos can do it they stopped playing cagey tactical football and started playing like stupid, enthusiastic Aussies.

The only thing I don't like about Australia's performance is the whinging afterwards. It was handball on the penalty line. A red card and a penalty was appropriate. It's harsh on Australia, but can you imagine the uproar from FIFA and the African Confederation if the referee didn't give that ruling? Instead of blaming the dodgy Italian referee (Italians, hey?), why don't we ask ourselves why Emerton didn't close down that guy on the edge of the box?

Oh, and Anelka's been expelled from the French World Cup squad for calling Domenech a "dirty son of a whore". If that's the criteria for expulsion, I'm surprised they've still got enough players to field a side.

So on the 307th last day of my 20s, I got my hair right. Push it in the middle, fringe on the left, scrunch it at the back. Looks like an urban mohawk but without the height or definition.

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