Saturday, 16 July 2011

In 2006 the Socceroos blew a World cup Semi possibly, in 2011 did the Matildas?

Now the dust has settled and the brief coverage of the Matildas in our national media has disappeared I thought someone should review the campaign.

While it was no doubt, with two wins, the best ever performance by a Matildas team, qualifying for the Quarter Finals and picking up the best Young Player in the World Cup in Caitlin Foord, one shouldn't be too harsh in review, perhaps!

But I can't help feeling a sense of deja vu.

I never expect I'll see an Australian men's team in my life time get an opportunity like we had in 2006 in Germany. To play against 10 men Italy to get a quarter final against a lifeless Ukraine in 2006 for a Semi Final spot - yoyoyoyo did Big Brett Emerton handle against Croatia thus leaving Marco Bresciano to defend Grosso in the right back area late in the game - And while the sales pitch on the Matildas has been "we have a very young team," which we do - but when you look at the strength of the squad maybe a World Cup semi final berth should have been ours.

Kate Gill never made it. Sally Shipard and Tameka Butt hardly made it. And many that did seem to have sooo many bandages that perhaps they wished they didn't make it.

In Sally Shipard, Tameka Butt, Claire Polkinghorne, and Lauren Colthorpe we had class players, class defenders who hardly played - at least not when it mattered.

Were more players injured than we realised?

It seemed strange that Tom Sermanni persisted with the shocking defensive performances of the whole back four. Indeed he did change, bringing in Colthorpe and Ellyse Perry at times but even they seemed to have caught the lack of confidence from the rest of the unit.

Maybe we just couldn't balance the various talents and we have many - perhaps the forwards De Vanna aside, are all very good players, but no-one really that exceptional to take us to the next level or take a load of De Vanna.

Similarly in the defence. No Cheryl Salisbury and while Kim Carroll was a rock throughout, her tragic pass against Sweden ended our potential fightback - and it was on - and a Semi Final.

We'll keep improving they tell us - don't count on it.

Sure more players will head overseas which should help but all those European players playing in club and European Championship club games may see the Aussies slip behind in their rate of improvement.

Sermanni may have a different view - he'll certainly be able to keep the side improving but I wonder from here on in if he's going to be in a fair fight.

Yes the pool of Aussie women has massively improved since the start of the W-League but how far can they go with the rest of football mad Europe on the march. Not to mention Africa, and South America starting to focus.

We've done well, very well, but increasing our W-League may not be practicable, so maybe an Asian Club tournament is needed next.

We need to take the next step in preparation. With the current FFA you can't see that happening - we could hardly organise a few friendlies for the team prior to the World Cup.

Did that cost us our Semi spot?

Two thoughts:

Why did Claire Polkinghorne a standout in the last World Cup not get a chance to improve our defensive performances in any games in the World Cup? Was she injured?

And secondly we did well, very well, but we may have missed given our talented pool of players, our best chance to get to a World Cup semi final. Ouch!


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