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Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Aussies out of Under 23 World Cup

Australia went out of the Olympics tonight. They lost 1-0 in Tianjin to the Ivory Coast.

And whilst they gave perhaps their best performance of the tournament they never really looked convincing in the the final third, not tonight, or indeed in the whole tournament.

They told us they were a great group of players, battle hardened having qualified through Asia.

And qualifying through Asia was indeed a great achievement it was how they qualified that lead many of us to believe they would struggle to get out of the group, the group of death. Funny how we're always in the group of death!

Free-kicks and headed or even handled goals got the team over the line in the qualifiers. No-one was complaining but when the source of headed goals from free-kicks and corners dried up we had little else.

We lost our three warm-up games, scored only one goal in this tournament and in the end the results don't lie.

Ned Zelic, Mark Viduka, their clones weren't present in Chinaor were they?

But Adam Federici and Matthew Spiranovic were superb. Of Zelic, Viduka standard? Albeit in different positions. Jade North showed his quality again

But Coach Graham Arnold playing two central defenders in front of the back four was never convinced this team could play. Not in a forward sense.

The team created enough chances in all games but couldn't convert.

Defensively we did okay but ultimately that feeling that our forward play and movement, our next attacking generation of players are just not there.

In truth it was depressing. Watching teams without a cutting thrust is hard work. When it's your national team it verges on despairing.

Bruce Djite and Nathan Burns would add something but they are hardly Lionel Messi just yet.

Billy Celeski showed promise, but again lacked real confidence in the final third.

Stuart Musialik took a step forward. But it's in the final third, the Nicky Carle position, and the striker role, where all Australian teams are limited at present.

I enjoyed the first sixty minutes then we seemed to run out of steam and you realised we would never score no matter how many chances we had.

Arnie will be lynched. He doesn't need to be. He got this group of players to the Olympics. Maybe they and he overachieved.

But we're left with a neat footballing defensive unit but with hardly a player able to take anyone one in the final third. No pace, Nikita apart, and not a goalscorer at this level in the squad.

It's not all grim...at least we don't have to watch the lads anymore.

And it could have been worse, it could have been on Channel 7.

Australian football has a long way to go. To produce exciting players. We need to find another way.

Great defensive midfielders. Pah, I want a winger, a striker who can score, a Number 10 who gets me out of my seat with a simple but delightful through or linking ball.

How long will I have to wait?

1 comment:

Michael West said...

Well we didn't have to wait long for Matt Simon to score! After getting off the plane from China a few hours earlier he cam on as a sub for the Mariners and headed one home in the 87th minute!!