Sunday, 27 February 2011

Two Aussie Coaches in tactical battle! Great to see.

Ange Postecoglou Championship winning Coach of Australia's most unbeaten football team ever - up against Graham Arnold one-time Socceroos losing dispirited Coach, dire Olyroo producing Coach but long-term Assistant to Hiddinka and Verbeek.

Over two legs Ange won the day - in fairness he had all the confidence and momentum going into the first game - and despite the Mariners playing much better than in previous games Arnie's men couldn't score.

Arnie had learned much from his teams 5-1 debacle earlier in the season, employing his forwards much wider, using Perez to push forward to restrict the Roar playing out to their two wide full backs themselves always pushing up.

Last night the Mariners seemed to pull back to compact the space into their own third, never mind half, at times. Similarly the Roar - but the Mariners seemed to play their two strikers even wider this week when defending the ball.

Did it work?

Yes and no.

The Mariners created wonderful chances early, before the Roar had 67% of possession going into the break. The Mariners had scored two - stunned the pants off Arnie and the watching gallery but in truth the Roar had enough chances to score themselves.

Ange wouldn't have been to worried at half-time given their possession - notwithstanding their 2-0 lead was gone - and mental stuff starts to happen.

In the second half the Mariners were on top, getting good ball, good possession as the normally composed Roar started to look - awful.

Arnie must have thought the win was coming - but Ange switched Henrique for Nichols, more pace, same skill with Broich moving in to Nichols place and the game was won.

In an instant.

It was so simple, a little change and the Roar got McKay on the ball - he kept it, released a team-mate or two and the Mariners unassailable ascendency was gone.

Norwich in goal for the Roar still had to make a match-winning save but somehow the Roar had got out of gaol.

I'm still not sure why such a substitution was so powerful, so effective but Arnie will be rueing this one.

He had the Roar on the ropes - home Grand Final on the way - and suddenly it was gone.

A fantastic game, nip and tuck, with some fine football being played by Australian's finest - a feast.

Don't miss the final - I'm a big Adelaide fan but maybe only the Mariners have enough around the park to make the final a fascinating battle.

Let's hope it's a rematch of last nights game - would be a proud day for Aussie sport.

And with 50,000 at Suncorp we might even get some positive coverage for football's finest domestic day!

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