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Sunday, 1 June 2008

Australia: The Lucky Country!

A Harry Kewell header was enough to beat Iraq 1-0 in a crucial World Cup Qualifier in Brisbane tonight, but it was really a case of The Lucky Country coming to the fore once more.

Playing a team who can't play at home, can't visit their home, but who are the Asian Chmapions, Australia struggled where it mattered most. To create good scoring opportunities and to defend well, at times to defend at all. Verbeek must be worried. I was:)

Somehow Iraq missed some wonderfully created chances. They only have themselves to blame, and another inspired performance from Aussie keeper Mark Schzarwer.

This three points was nearly thrown away on so many ocasions and yet it will be vital to give the Aussies a safe passage to the next round.

Surely a home win against China would see the Aussies through, but hopefully we should be through well before that game.

Harry is back and surely can only get better as the month goes on. Let's hope he remains injury free and produces two or three more wonderful efforts. A great goal tonight plus some excellent link up play.

I criticised him for his recent Socceroos performances but tonight he showed his value once more to the team. He was the match winner!

Bruce Djite: A glimmer of hope for the future. 2010 he may well be ready to play a part.

Brett Holman: The guy always gets a chance, doesn't always take them, but he is positive and with him on the field you know he's always looking goalward. Australia will need more of that in the coming weeks.

Mark Schzarwer: Great game again. He saved us against China and again tonight.

Brett Emerton and David Carney were crucially exposed on a number of occasions, they should thank our keeper. Tonight we got away with it.

Jade North was sound, but his mate Michael Beauchamp continues to struggle at this level. Has Lucas Neill's partner had her baby yet?

Vinnie Grella disappointed. Sure he did well, very well at times, but he seemed to tire towards the end, and there were times this game could have been locked down. We, and Vinnie couldn't do it.

But the win gives Coach Pim Verbeek the title of the luckiest Aussie Coach since, well the last Dutch one.

He moved Jason Culina forward, his home attacking strategy. Did it work? In the first half we should have conceded, but we did create some half chances. Indeed we controlled most of the play.

But when Iraq attack they do with pace, great skill and fluency. In Younis Mahmoud they have striker who can run the line, attack the goal on his own. And he nearly, so nearly scored on a couple of occasions making our central defence look ordinary.

Scott McDonald, even Mark Viduka could never do that for Australia. Different players different strengths.

In the second half Verbeek switched Kewell to the left, within a minute he'd scored. Master stroke? Kewell got a free header something he hadn't been able to get when attacking Carney and Bresciano's balls from the other side in the first half.

This Australian team can only get stronger, Josh Kennedy, Lucas Neil, Mile Sterjovski will all come back to add choice and quality to the team.

We ain't the best in the World. We never have been. But the way we're going we are the luckiest. We're good enough, now, to get through this group and by the time the next group comes around we will get better and better and who knows with this much luck we may yet get to South Africa.

We may yet need Mark Viduka.

For now be thankful we robbed three points, when one or none may have been fairer, and hope for better, tighter defensive displays ahead.

And isn't it great to playing through Asia! To see 48,000 watching the Socceroos play a crucial group game. I'm loving it, even if the fingernails are all gone just one game, make that one half, into June.

Oceania was NEVER like this!


1 comment:

Andy said...

And it gets better. Qatar & China drew 0-0 overnight. One more win and we're through the group o' death. Hopefully Iraq wont go through with us - i don't fancy meeting them again in the next round. We couldn't be so lucky again - on another day we could have lost that game by quite a margin.