Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Kiwis get a point, while the Socceroos wait for Ghana

As if to compound our disappointment at the Socceroos' opening result, a dogged New Zealand performance saw the Kiwis take a point from their game against Slovakia last night. An equaliser from Winston Reid in the dying minutes of the game was enough to secure the All Whites are draw after a 50th minute goal from Slovakia's Robert Vittek.


It was actually quite a good game, with some interesting keeping from Wellington Phoenix custodian Mark Paston, including letting a ball in sail across the goal-mouth and a remarkable tip over the bar after long range bullet.

The Socceroos are now back in training ahead of their Sunday morning (AET) clash with African side Ghana. Australia will need to get at-least a point from the game to have any hope of qualifying for the next stage, but a win would be preferable (thanks lads, would do nicely!)

In other World Cup news:

Cahill decision expected shortly (SBS:TWG)

Two strikers? (Fox Sports)

Good ratings, poor game, for first Socceroos match (SBS:TWG)

Youth or Experience? (NineMSN)

Wilko: We will fight (442)

And remember, you can check out all of my work at An Aussie's View. You might have to scroll down a bit to get to non-Aus WC Blog stuff. But hopefully it's worth it!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Well, that didn't quite go to plan...


Tim Cahill suspended for our encounter with Ghana, possibly also not available for Serbia.
The Socceroos humiliated on the world stage.

What went wrong?

A high defence line
Pim has a dilemma. He has two very slow centre-backs, one of them is really getting on in age. He is about to face a fluid attacking outfit. What does he do? Instead of being sensible and playing with a deep defensive line, he tries to play a pressing system which ultimately utilises a very high defensive line. Did you realise how many times the Germans were pinged for offside? This was because we were playing a high line with the offside trap. Worked some of the time, not so much for most of the game.

When SBS showed the line-up at 4:20 in the morning, I was dumb-founded. We have played 4-2-3-1 pretty much throughout the qualification campaign, so why we switched to a classic 4-4-2 formation for the biggest game of the last four year is beyond me. Sure, if one of the Socceroos had netted from the opening corner, and we had held on for a one-nil victory, Verbeek would have been hailed as a tactical genius. But we didn't. If anyone has any suggestions as to why the sudden switch away from the Verbeek defensive system, feel free to comment.

Playing Tim Cahill as a striker
It is easy to criticise this decision with hindsight, but Cahill looked isolated and frustrated up-front. Although we don't know what went through his mind when he made the tackle (and I don't think it should have been a red anyway), it's possible this frustration played a part.

Who didn't disgrace themselves

Monday, June 14, 2010

Germany embarrass Australia after dodgy dismissal (Germany 4-0 Australia)


A controversial decision may have added insult to injury for Australia, but even before the dismissal of Tim Cahill the Socceroos had been outplayed by a superior German side. Two goals in either half gave Germany a comfortable win and despite a strong start the Socceroos were unable to capitalise on their opportunities.

Australia started the game positively, and could have gone one-nil up in the first few minutes after a Luke Wilkshire cross bounced dangerously in the area. However, despite attempts from numerous Socceroos, the ball could not find its way into the back of the net. The Socceroos continued to look threatening, and it looked as if an upset could be on the cards.

However, Germany then opened the scoring in the 8th minute after young-star Mesut Ozil played a brilliant ball to Thomas Muller, who crossed it back from the by-line for the lurking Lukas Podolski. The Cologne striker smashed the ball in the top corner and Mark Schwarzer, despite getting a hand to it, was unable to keep it out.

The Germans soon doubled the scoring, with Miroslav Klose beating Schwarzer to a Phillip Lahm cross and heading into an empty net. Ozil and company continued to create chances, and the Australians were more than happy to hear the sound of the half-time whistle.

The second half kicked off with Vince Grella substituted for the more attacking-minded Brett Holman, and he made an immediate effect. A hand-ball from Per Mertesacker in the area should have led to a penalty, but neither the referee nor the linesman spotted the incident. Holman then demonstrated why he had been brought on, as the substitute turned Arne Friedrich before firing just wide.

The controversy then continued with Australian talisman Tim Cahill sent off for a challenge on Bastian Schweinsteiger. Despite hitting the Bayern Munich star from behind, replays seem to suggest that Cahill was trying to pull out of the tackle, and it probably only warranted a yellow card.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The big one! Australia v Germany World Cup preview!


Exactly four years and one day after Australia kicked off their 2006 World Cup campaign in spectacular style, the Socceroos will today (or tomorrow Australian time) be heading into battle against a slightly tougher opposition than 2006, but with the same intention, to show the world that we mean business! After a weeks talk of Germany threatening to embarrass Australia, the pragmatic Dutchman Pim Verbeek will be looking to show his Germany counterpart, Joachim Low, that he was seriously mistaken.


Kieran: Can we beat Germany? Can we beat the sixth rank team in the world? That's what it all comes down to. Germany have a solid goalkeeper, with Manuel Neuer a capable replacement for the injured Rene Adler. At the back, only Phillip Lahm will stand-out to many, but Germany certainly have a quality defence.

The midfield however is where Germany will really shine, with the absence of Michael Ballack providing the perfect opportunity for youth sensation Mesut Ozil to show why he is one of the most highly rated young stars in Europe.

Alongside Ozil may be another young star, 23-year-old Sami Khedira. The Stuttgart midfielder captained Germany's youth side to the U21 European Championship, and will be looking to reproduce his form for Germany on the big stage. On the wing for Die Mannschaft will be Bayern Munich star Bastian Schweinsteiger, and after helping his side to a Champions League final this year, Schweinsteiger will be looking for glory in South Africa. Australia will have to keep him quiet if they are to get anything out of the game.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The World Cup is here! Along with an assortment of news!

AND IT'S HERE!!!!!!!


With two entertaining draws, the FIFA World Cup has now officially kicked-off. So, what better time to give you a quick little wrap of the Socceroo/Australian football news.

First up is the news that Australia has officially pulled out from the 2018 World Cup bidding process. It seemed inevitable after the Asian Football Confederation claimed they would be backing Europe for 2018, and yesterday Frank Lowy made it official. However, this may actually be beneficial for our 2022 bid, as we seemed to have earned some good-will from FIFA, and it will mean that neither Europe or South America can bid, effectively leaving North America and Asia. Despite competition from a strong US bid, the temptation to bring the World Cup to a new stage may be all Australia's bid needs if it can get the backing of the AFC.

Secondly, German manager Joachim Low has told the media that he believes his side can embarrass Australia in their opening game of the World Cup. However, with the mighty Carl Valeri (dinho) in midfield, and pragmatic Pim Verbeek at the helm, Australia will be looking to spring a surprise...

In other news, Fulham have rejected an offer from Arsenal for goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. British newspaper the Daily Star also claims that Schwarzer has told Fulham manager Roy Hodgson he would be interested in the move, but I stress that the Daily Star isn't exactly known for their accurate reporting. Personally, if Schwarzer was to become first choice (which would only be logical, I can't see Arsene Wenger spending money on an ageing second-choice keeper), I think it would be a great move for the Socceroos custodian. What do you think?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Emerton joins Ruka on the 'need a new club' list


Brett Emerton has been told by English club Blackburn Rovers that he will not be needed next season. The 31-year-old has been transfer-listed by the Ewood Park club, despite still having two years on his current contract. The news will come as a serious blow to Emerton, who is currently trying to overcome a calf injury, but will be hoping to show any potential suitors his skills over the following weeks.

Emerton will join Nikita Rukavytsya as Socceroos looking for new clubs, after the Ukrainian-born forward was not kept-on by Dutch side FC Twente at the end of the season. Ruka, who could play a key role at the World Cup, coming off the bench looking for an impact, has told SBS he is hoping to stay in Europe, and was not thinking of a return to the A-League.

Got to feel for the lad really, but I suppose no better time to be transfer-listed than just before the Cup.

In other news, 1 sleep till the WORLD CUP!!!! GET EXCITED :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Half Time Heroes World Cup Special

Australia's best web magazine has just released its World Cup special. So have a read.

I'm in there on page 32 with a preview of Spain's World Cup hopes, and again on page 35 with a wrap of the Spanish domestic season. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Scoring goals with Golgol


When Golgol Mebrahtu stepped out onto the pitch at Members Equity Stadium in Perth it marked the end of a remarkable journey that had taken him from Eritrea to Australia and finally to an A-League contract with Gold Coast United. But his debut was just the first step on his journey to hopefully represent Australia at the 2012 Olympics.

Mebrahtu’s fairytale football story started when he was spotted by Gold Coast manager Miron Bleiberg while playing football on a Brisbane pitch. Impressed by what he saw, Bleiberg suggested Mebrahtu attend trials, and a few months later he signed for Gold Coast.

Stepping up from the Brisbane Strikers to an A-League team was a huge step, and Golgol was initially nervous, but he soon settled in. Recalling the transition, Mebrahtu says, “I knew it would be a big step and I was nervous when I saw the likes of Michael Thwaite and Shane Smeltz at training, but after a couple of weeks I got used to it and really settled in well.”

Mebrahtu had started playing football while still living in Africa, but didn’t have much time to play. “There was little in the way of organized football for us kids to play and my family were very focused on education, so most of our time was spent learning more academic things. Occasionally a bunch of kids from the neighbourhood would gather together for a kick-about, but that was about it.”

But a move to Australia when he was ten changed this, and shortly after he was turning out at under eleven level for Brisbane Olympic. Not long after this he was kicking the ball around regularly and playing whenever he could.

A more detailed wrap of Australia's 23-man World Cup squad

So the squad has been announced, the shocks have occurred and it’s now down to business for the 23 remaining Socceroos. The biggest surprise was the exclusion of Rhys Williams from the squad, while the cutting of Tommy Oar, James Holland, Eugene Galekovic and Shane Lowry were all fairly self-explanatory.


Williams’ absence from the final squad has led to a war of word between Pim Verbeek and Middlesbrough manager Gordon Strachan. Verbeek has claimed that his decision to exclude Williams was based on his pelvic injury, which he claims Strachan only made worse in the final few weeks of the season. Strachan however has angrily hit back, claiming that he never put Williams under pressure to play. You can read the full war of words here and here.

But in more important news, the squad!

Goalkeepers: Adam Federici, Brad Jones, Mark Schwarzer

No surprises here. Galekovic was only ever in the squad as a back-up, and I doubt he will have had any realistic expectations of making the final squad barring any injuries. In terms of the pecking order, Schwarzer is obviously the undisputed number one. Federici and Jones will then fight it out for the spot on the bench, and I would think that Fed will win, due to his good season at club-level this year.

Defenders: Michael Beauchamp, David Carney, Scott Chipperfield, Mark Milligan, Craig Moore, Lucas Neill, Luke Wilkshire

Defence is the area that came under most scrutiny from Pim’s knife, with three defenders (Lowry, Williams and North) all missing out on the final 23. While I feel that the decision to cut Williams is harsh, if Verbeek’s claims of medical issues are true, the decision is probably justified. Sadly, Craig Moore and Lucas Neill will probably be starting together, with Wilkshire on the right and either Chipperfield or Carney on the left. While we will miss the versatility of Williams, Beauchamp and Milligan will hopefully hold us in good stead.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The squad is announced...finally.

After a long wait, Pim Verbeek has finally announced his squad of 23 for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. While the team list had to be in at 8am this morning (Australian Eastern Time), Pim kept the list under wraps so he could confer with players and the medical team. But finally, Verbeek has announced that (as expected) James Holland, Tommy Oar and Eugene Galekovic will all miss out. Less expected however is the news that Rhys Williams and Shane Lowry will also miss the cut.


The decision allows both Dario Vidosic and Richard Garcia the opportunity to remain in the squad. It will however leave the Socceroos light at the back, with Jade North already cut from the squad.

The squad is:
Goalkeepers: Adam Federici, Brad Jones, Mark Schwarzer

Defenders: Michael Beauchamp, David Carney, Scott Chipperfield, Mark Milligan, Craig Moore, Lucas Neill, Luke Wilkshire

Midfielders: Mark Bresciano, Tim Cahill, Jason Culina, Brett Emerton, Richard Garcia, Vincenzo Grella, Brett Holman, Mile Jedinak, Carl Valeri, Dario Vidosic

Forwards: Joshua Kennedy, Harry Kewell, Nikita Rukavytsya

More to follow.

So what do you think? Right move by Pim, or is he an idiot?