After the Socceroos’ abysmal performance in the recent World Cup Qualifiers verses the likes of Saudi Arabia, Japan and Thailand, there has been mass outrage as the current squad missed a huge chance to leap frog to the top of the group and set themselves up a great chance to qualify for Russia 2018.
We didn’t leave Saudi Arabia empty handed, we left with one point, which in a ground as hostile as theirs and combatting the climate, it doesn’t sound too bad at all but it would have been a lot sweeter finishing off the qualifying round with all three points against Japan and then Bangkok. All the contrary.
The squad the Socceroos boss selected for this tie and the camp in its entirety was strong, youthful and possessed the traits we needed. Class between our sticks, check, solidity at the back, check, creativity in the midfield, check and goal scorers at the front, check.
The question is why didn’t it click this time? Were we missing someone? Do we blame Ange?
There are so many to questions to ask ourselves because we expected so much more from our Asian Champions who did not live up to their name.
The match in Saudi Arabia we knew it wouldn’t be straight forward. However, Ange Postecoglou took his team two weeks earlier to prepare to combat the climate and get used to it…did they? It didn’t look like it from my eyes.
The match was tough, we couldn’t keep up with the Saudi’s and their class midfielders who spun out of tough areas with a couple cute touches and one-twos between themselves, Mile Jedinak almost looked out of reach in the midfield finding more and more trouble to keep up with the likes of Al Abid and Al Shehri.
We went behind quite strangely and it wasn’t my tired eyes at 4:30am who thought so but down the right side of defence and ball cut back into the six-yard box and a neat finish into the back of the net? Too easy.
We came back and ended up finding the net and levelled. The game ended 1-1 and we were pleased, to an extent.
Then another draw versus our biggest rivals, Japan which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Come Thailand and we dug ourselves a hole. We should have closed the game out. We had talent all over the pitch. Rogic, Mooy to name a couple but we got nothing. Robbie Kruse looked like he hadn’t played a match of football in long while, Mooy found it terribly hard to put a foot hold on the game and more importantly in the midfield and so to Rogic but he tried with his slick touches to create something and we were thankful.
How the match finished 2-2 I have no idea. To make it worse we equalised both time through two nicely slot Mile Jedinak penalties. Sounds bad, right?
To finish the international break, we left with three points from a possible nine. Yikes.
Where to now for the Socceroos?
Our next World Cup Qualifier is next year against Iraq away then in March, home against United Arab Emirates. There hasn’t a more important time to win than the Asian Cup. We sit third one point away from leaders Saudi Arabia. It doesn’t sound too bad but boy we need this bad.
There has been word we need to call upon new players, maybe someone else who can make up tick, has flare and can be our x-factor. I mean, who can this be?
In recent article written by Mike Cockerill, he believes Alex Brosque from Sydney FC could be the man Ange is missing. Is that too farfetched?
I don’t think so.
Brosque has been terrible unlucky with the National Team. In my opinion he deserved better and time in the team.
The national team back in the day was very concrete and solidified and to just say it, preferred to keep a closed circle.
Brosque this season has played with his heart on his sleeve since that injury last season. Who would have thought that today, seven rounds in we’d be asking ourselves that 33-year-old Brosque may be the man we need, or even more so, our Socceroos are in more trouble than we thought?
So, if we think that, can we imagine a world where Nick Carle wasn’t retired, fit and firing thinking he’d be the answer to our Socceroos prayers in 2016?
These two players were needed back in the day, we needed their South American flare and creativity but their chances were few and far between. But that’s a debate for another blog post.
We witnessed how fragile the Socceroos are and when the heat gets to them they sink and find it hard to play themselves out and wake up. Yes, these were tough away fixtures but we wouldn’t be having this argument if we bagged the points.
Do we panic? I think we need to be a lot more critical. We need to be angry, we need to blame because we are the Asian Champions and its time we play like that every time we hit the international stage. That title needs to intimidate, even if it is going away or playing at home, we need that passion and to think we’re top shit because we are.
We need to look at ourselves and our squad and pin-point our fragilities because they were present and need to be quickly eradicated.
Our fixtures next year are do or die. Squad selection will never have more pressure than it will when these matches come to town and there needs to be more critical thinking over players who seem to have their position ‘locked’ because in the last three fixtures they did not deserve to wear the green and gold.