Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Aussie Aussie Aussie - a footballing rant of regret

I won’t deny that I’m still hurting from the Australia v Italy World Cup knock out game played on Tuesday morning. After I woke up the second time (at 7A to go to work) my wife said, “Well, its only a game.” I replied that in twelve months time it will “only be a game.” Right now I only have murderous and violent thoughts. “We wuz robbed I tells ya.”
(Many thanks to "Rosie the Beautiful" for the picture)
Penalty or no, the truth is Australia should have converted before the 90 minute mark and won the game off their own boot. They were however unable to penetrate a very resolute Italian defence despite controlling play for long periods of time (and having a numerical advantage for most of the second half).
What hurts is that the Italians did not deserve to win either. They displayed a very great unwillingness to try and the wrest the game from the Australians and played a very defensive and negative game plan. To then “steal” a victory with 10 seconds left on the clock through no skill of their own making is shocking.
It is here though that the randomness of the football gods (conspiracy theories aside) demonstrate their fickle natures with neither fear nor favour. The old world footballing nations such as Italy know their gods and know that such things happen in football. It happened to them in South Korea four years ago and this week was payback (again, conspiracy theories aside!).
Australia’s own sense of destiny regarding this World Cup appears to have lodged naively in the public’s consciousness that there was no telling what the Socceroos could accomplish. South Korea made it the final four, four years ago, why not us ? To be shunned so callously has left us hurt and bruised. We will be stronger for the experience however. We have now progressed through adolescence and look forward to young adulthood with optimism – our whole life is ahead of us and anything is possible.
Hiddink has showed us that to play attacking, positive football is appealing to watch and allows a team to create its own luck. This is contrasted with the likes of the old guard who, quite frankly, have been unimpressive in this tournament, albeit that some of them are still alive to talk about it : Netherlands (eliminated), Italy, England to name but three.
This kind of negative thinking meant that all of Australia’s opponents in the group stage and the Netherlands before them underestimated their opponent by dropping back into defensive mode after scoring the first goal. This came unstuck for three of them as Australia either won or drew the game.
The exception of course is Brazil who were still warming up when they defeated the Aussies 2-0 in Munich. Here is a team that attacks positively but defends resolutely. To watch them against a “what have we got to lose?” Ghana on Wednesday morning was to see all of their class and poise. They’re five time world champions so we know they’re good. Let us hope that the Socceroos’s emulate this team of the beautiful game and build from strength to strength and put the disappointment of Kaiserlautern behind them.
The World Cup takes a breather for a couple of days with the quarter finals this Saturday and Sunday mornings : Germany v Argentina and Italy v Ukraine in one half and England v Portugal and Brazil v France in the other. The semi-finals are Wednesday and Thursday mornings next week.

No comments: