Sunday, 6 February 2011

Asian Cup success hides state of the Aussie game...or does it?

Great we got to a final with a strong performance over Uzbekistan and a strong but ultimately losing performance in the Asian Cup Final.

No-one more delighted to see the team playing some decent fast forward focused football and let's face it we should have won the final. Will we ever get a better chance?

Have we ever played better against Japan over the 90, or even 120. Were the Australian side faster, fitter and technically on a par with our Asian neighbours - well, possibly, at times.

But Uzbekistan despite their useless defending in the 6-0 semi controlled most of the first half. And anyone who saw the other games will know Korea and certainly Bahrain and Iraq were not thumped by the Australian side.

We won - just against Bahrain and Iraq. And not with much to spare in my view.

Great to see some mobility in the team. Matt McKay, Brett Holman, Robbie Kruse and Sasa Ognenovski further enhanced their status. Mile Jedinak and Carl Valeri also.

But while we rejoice in a great tournament - Harry Kewell, superb, Tim Cahill less so, Lucas Neill and Sasa Ognenovski were strong throughout - we were still not good enough to win; and these guys will be hard to replace in coming years.

Certainly in big big games.

And I haven't mentioned our Keeper!

Nathan Burns, Dario Vidosic, Matthew Leckie and others may well replace the stars above but look at the difference in class, in game knowledge. Will they ever get it?

A Mark Viduka or Harry Kewell to build a team around for ten or more years? Have you seen one?

We've survived another tournament, done ourselves proud, but Aussies true current worth yet to be revealed.

Note Korea and Japanese average ages? And how many of their players did you recognise from the World Cup?

Maybe Scott McDonald, Josh Kennedy, and Robbie Kruse will provide enough firepower to get us through to the next World Cup if Cahill and Kewell can't make that trip to North Korea; and maybe Matt Spiranovic and Luke Devere and co are good enough to cover for Lucas Neill should we need it. Maybe.

Maybe we have a bit of time to bring the next crew forward - I've no doubt the U17 and U20s will provide us with much talent in years to come.

And while Matt McKay was a revelation it was Robbie Kruse, 22, a striker, who showed enough to me to suggest that if Timmy or Harry is out injured over the next couple of years we have at least one young Aussie proven at the Asian level who could assist the cause in coming years.

And with Robbie Kruse doing it, how many other A-League Aussies could step up when needed?

We won't dominate the next World Cup Qualifiers but surely with the Olympic Qualifiers, U20 and U17 at the World Cup this year we must, given our Coaching revolution we now have, we must be encouraged by our ability to get a little closer to qualifying for the next World Cup than any of us could have dared to dream just six months ago.

Our new breed will gain valuable experience in 2011 in various tournaments and surely someone can step up to the elite level, early, a la Kewell and Viduka and march straight into the national team.

An Aussie U20 so good he must start in the National team - wouldn't that be nice to see!

PS: The 19 year old passed to the 20 year old and he scored the goal for Korea against Australia.

Korea didn't get to the final but who will improve more? The Korean forward line or Tim or Harry?

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