Monday, September 28, 2009

(U-20 WC) Czech Republic 2-1 Socceroos

A sloppy U-20 Socceroos side went down to the Czech Republic this morning.

After a scoreless first half, comprising of poor passing and overall sloppy football from both sides, the Czech Republic opened up the scoring in the 50th minute, with a header from young striker Michael Rabusic. Then, after a number of half chances for the Socceroos, a reckless tackle in the box saw Ryan McGowan given his marching orders, and Tomas Pekhart converted the ensuing penalty. While McGowan made contact with the ball, given how tightly Mexican Marco Rodriguez had been refereeing, and that McGowan already had a yellow card to his name, it was no real surprise to see him sent off.

While it looked as if the Czech’s had the game closed up at 2-0 with only injury time remaining, a moment of strangeness in the Czech box changed that. A slight push in the box on Brisbane Roar’s Luke DeVere, a push that didn’t even draw protest from DeVere, resulted in Rodriguez pointing to the spot. Then, a poor penalty from James Holland that saw the Czech keeper leap to his right and save, left the Australia team downhearted, and it appeared as if they would be going to their next game with Costa Rica without a goal on the board. It appeared to be so. But, Rodriguez point back to the spot, claiming encroachment. A dubious decision, but the Socceroos weren’t complaining, and Holland stepped back up to the spot to score. However, despite the moments of craziness, which should have surely seen more time added to the 3 minutes of extra time, Rodriguez blew his whistle, and Australia didn’t have a chance to get the equaliser. So the U-20 Socceroos will move onto their next two games needing a win against Costa Rica and probably a draw against Brazil to achieve coach Jan Versleijen’s goal of 4 points.

The game had started poorly for the Young Socceroos, with a dangerous freekick in just the second minute for the Czechs, but it went over. Then in the 5th minute striker Michael Rabusic was cautioned for simulation, which was rather amusing. Australia continued to create opportunities, only for poor passing to let them down, until individual brilliance from Kofi Danning on the break presented a chance for Jason Hoffman, who put it over the bar. Then in the 27th a Czech shot hit side netting, but Australia quickly responded with a Kofi Danning cross causing trouble for the keeper, and a rebound created more trouble, but the second shot was saved. In the 34th a long passage of passing for Australia looked dangerous, but it came to nothing. Other than a Australian corner and an Aussie freekick which was easily saved, the next ten minutes of play passed rather uneventfully, and they went into half time at 0-0. A half time sub, with Sean Rooney coming on for the rather disappointing Jason Hoffman, and then SBS commentator Vitor Sobral’s amusing slipup, Wayne….Sean Rooney, were the only highlights until the goals started flowing.

Overall a very disappointing game for Australia, as they took forever to calm down and start playing well, and while enjoying many chances, could only convert one, from the penalty spot, and even then Holland had to make two attempts. Unsurprisingly, Versleijen was very disappointed at the post match press conference, and thought that the team could play much better,

“It was disappointing not only with the result but the performance because we didn’t reach the level that we should reach. If you want to get results in a World Cup you have to play at a high level and we didn’t see that today….But that aside, I know we can do much better and everybody knows we can do much better and that’s the positive coming out of it. The important thing now is to get a result against Costa Rica to have a chance of qualifying for the next round.”

I woke up early and watched the game, and other than the things mentioned above, my main two points have to be that Kofi Danning is awesome, and that as good as the Czech keeper is, he badly needs a decent haircut. Also, Bouzanis looked rather assured in goals, and was unlucky not to save the penalty, as he dived the right way, but couldn’t quite get his hand on the ball.

So make sure you watch the Young Socceroos take on Costa Rica (who lost 5-0 to Brazil) on Wednesday night, coverage starting at 11.30 on SBS.

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