Thursday, 7 July 2011

Matildas more defensive wobble than waltz - but we win

If we play like that we'll never beat USA conquerors Sweden.

Wily fox Tom Sermanni ditched Emily Van Egmond, left Sally Shipard on the bench and went for a three pronged attack against previous World Cup winners Norway this morning - a team we'd never beaten.

The results said it worked.

Anyone who say the game will think otherwise.

We kept the ball for ten minutes but under fierce pressure on the ball from the Norwegians and with our three forwards stranded up front we were unable to continue to control the ball or the game.

Our defence has wobbled in both previous games, despite the team playing well, but Norway clearly learning from that attacked with a bit more venom than Brazil or Guinea. They certainly pressed much higher up - and we didn't look so flash anymore.

And despite our commentators, David Basheer and Sarah Walsh continuing to talk about the ugly Norwegians and their route one football - I saw a different game. Besides with Lisa De Vanna upfront we can play it as long, as direct as anyone - so less of the unfair criticism SBS!

Norway had some wonderful players rarely booted it down the middle - isn't that route one - played the ball wide from midfield and got balls into the box. The end product often provided challenges beyond our defensive capabilities. Although again Kim Carroll and Elise Kellond- Knight were superb.

Criticism of the national team and individual players is slow to rise it seems, must be a girl thing - but if Lucas Neill played like Servet Uzunlar in just one game, never mind three, they'd be hanging him from the Harbour Bridge. Servet is having a World Cup hell - each game gets worse, more indecisive and can she really take another performance like this? With her leg heavily strapped perhaps she's carrying a burden.

More importantly can the team take another defensive performance like that?

Caitlin Foord although very young - is not immune either. Once again her decision making and defending makes you wonder if she's really ready for the defensive duties required at a World Cup. Would Claire Polkingthorne not provide more steely defence and assist Servet alongside. Polkingthorne is proven.

Melissa Barbieri - experienced though she is - still makes errors that gives hope to opposing teams. Last night she didn't just give hope, she gave a goal. At this level that could be your World Cup.

Tommy it's time to make a change or two in the defence if we are to have any hope of progressing.

Norway scored first. They scored a goal that should never have been conceded. In fact the Matildas were having their best spell in the second half when a boot forward landed safely in the middle of our defence. We turned it into a goal.

Oh my god we could go out! But before I'd resettled under the doona De Vanna had done some magic and Kyah Simon scored. Why was I worried!

And then the Norwegians won a free late on and the kick crashed against the bar! Phew - and within minutes Kyah Simon leapt like Andy Harper's Salmon and we'd won.

The front three didn't work in my view, meaning our mid-three had to be stronger to keep the ball - they couldn't and we suffered.

Against Brazil we played just two upfront, from an attacking sense we didn't really pose too many threats to Brazil but our midfield and Collette McCallum had much more support to keep and play the ball. Should we revert for the tougher games?

We are in the next round. Matching, and with two wins, I'd say beating the achievements of the 2007 team. We are better.

Sweden will be a massive test - and we're the underdogs.

But if two goal hero Kyah Simon and the mercurial and match winner turned provider Lisa De Vanna can fire this team has goals. Both were excellent last night along with Heather Garriock who despite not being back to her 2007 best continues to make a big impact.

Can we keep a cleansheet, surely the biggest question now?

Time for Tom Sermanni to do his thing.

and we "never say die."

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