Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Finally something to smile about

As they say in the classics, what a difference a few days make. Arnold finally bit the bullet and made some serious changes to the starting XI with Milligan, Beauchamp, Aloisi and Carney coming in for Kisnorbo, Neill (enforced), Holman and Kewell for the game against Thailand and it paid off with the Socceroos coming away with a 4-0 win and allowing the team to progress to the quarter finals of the Asian Cup. This result flattered the Australians as it didn't reflect the effort put in by the Thais early in the second half where they completely dominated the game but for no result. Milligan, Beauchamp and Carney all played excellent games with the defence looking much more solid and able to deal with their Thai opponents better than the defence that played in the previous two matches. Although there was some moments where they looked a bit shaky but with more time on the field they will gel more as a unit. Milligan showed his experience playing in Asia (both with the Olyroos and Sydney FC) and will be hard to shift from the team for the next game against Japan. Beauchamp looked solid and chipped in for the first goal and Carney playing on the left look dangerous and floated in same dangerous crosses although his defensive efforts needs some work. Both Bresciano and Grella played much better, although at times Grella looked a little slow. Kewell and Cahill both had an impact when they came off the bench but at that time the Thais were starting to tire and Kewell showed his class and skill with the fourth game where you knew he was going to score as soon as he received the ball. Viduka looked dangerous with the addition of Aloisi in the line-up and showed his class in the end with two well taken goals.

Looking forward to the upcoming match against Japan, there is still a lot of improvements to be made as there will be a step up in class of opponent. Japan has looked all class so far in the tournament and has recently demolished Vietnam 4-1 and the UAE 5-1. But group stage form counts for nothing as has been proved in the recent Copa America and it is a new whole ball game as Australia now heads to Hanoi. Things look much rosier than they did a couple of days ago but to progress to the semi-finals the Socceroos need to keep up the intensity that was evident throughout most of the game against Thailand and revive in the Japanese minds that game in Kaiserslautern twelve months ago, although the Japanese team looks a different unit to that one.

It was also good to see a good turnout at the Rajamangala stadium
, with plenty of atmosphere and noise, something that has been missing from Australia's previous two matches.


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