Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Schwarzer takes away Chinese chance of Kumming glory

The roar that erupted in the Charles Dickens Tavern when Mark Schwarzer made his penalty save was as loud as any I have heard within its walls. I wanted to yell out: "That one's for Tibet!" but I kept my mouth shut. I did say to the two guys in front of me on the noise generated: "Its like we've scored." Their response: "Its even better than that!" And I think that most people in the extremely crowded pub agreed. A pub so crowded that my late arriving girlfriend almost didn't make it inside. Many people obviously finishing their working day early, as I had done, to take in the game.

I would have to agree with The Football Tragic that we were pretty luck to get away with a point in Kumming. It was clear early on that the Chinese had set out to frustrate a clearly undermanned Australian outfit by packing their defensive half. This seemed an odd tactic considering that the Socceroos were clearly lacking an out an out striker, particularly after the injury to Thompson and probably showed the lack of confidence within the Chinese team in front of their home crowd.

I think Verbeek got his tactics right on the night (or day as it was) with our lack of firepower that was available for the game. As said above it was helped that the Chinese played into his hands. The combination of Grella and Valeri as two holding midfielders was excellent and provided perfect foils for each other. Tactially, it was almost Capello-esque. For this combination to work in other situations a more creative midfielder is required rather than having Cullina in there as well. Myself along with the masses that were crammed into the bar, let out a groan as they realised that possibly Thompson would probably miss upcoming ACL games and that his replacement would be Brett Holman. I have never really been a big fan of Holman. Too often he appears to run around like a chicken sans head. Although at times he did appear to reverting to old habits he did his thankless job well, although not quite as well as a lot of pundits would make out.

A lot of credit for the point must also go to our defence with both North and Neill putting in outstanding performances ably assisted by Beauchamp after a slow start. Their only mistake was the failure to cover the long ball that resulted in the referee pointing to the spot. North looked really comfortable in the team and if the rumours are true he will be soon heading overseas in order to gain more game time in order to maintain his position within the squad. Newcastle's loss, but the Socceroos gain. Of concern would be the lack of width provided by both Carney and Wilkshire on their respective sides of the park.

A comment must be made about the poor performance put in by the referee, only moments after Holman received a soft yellow card for a minor shirt tug, Sun Ji Hai puts in a studs up, ankle destroying type tackle on Wilkshire and walks away without even a yellow card. It should have been a straight red and it had the patrons incensed. Although they were appeased somewhat when Valeri put in a strong tackle only moments before full time.
There was also a number of dodgy calls that appeared to go against the Australians - but they always seem to do for the away team

With Qatar pulling off a surprising 2-0 victory over Asian Champions, Iraq, the Socceroos are now in a good position to progress to the next stage of the qualification process. The two games against the Iraqis, both home and away will more than likely decide who will be advancing from the group. June will also provide a feast of international football with the last four games of this qualification stage occurring in a torrid three weeks. It also provides a great opportunity for all European-based members of our squad to play regularly together in high quality games as it will be their off-season.

A more comprehensive analysis of the game can also be found here, here and here.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home