I was planning to write a review of how I thought the Socceroos played in their first match against Germany. Now there seems little point. We lost. Forget about it. Move on.
We played badly and I think we deserved what we got. But let’s not forget who the opposition was. Germany are a truly world class side, and while I hoped for a better result than 4-0, I didn’t expect us to win. I think the realists among us had accepted that a loss was the most likely outcome. Of course, this now means that we probably need to win both of our remaining games to progress to the knockout rounds.
Let’s be honest, it’s a huge challenge. There is now zero room for error. A draw in either game is not good enough. We need to win both. On balance, the likelihood is that we will not progress, but there is yet hope. Neither Serbia nor Ghana is an opponent beyond Australia, so it’s still possible and we hope for the best.
Let’s break it down a little further. Consider the match against Serbia. At the time of writing, Serbia is in a worse position than us. They have also lost their opening game and they still have to play Germany. Serbia is our last group match and in all probability, it’s quite likely that by that stage Serbia will be completely out of the running. That gives us a much greater chance of winning. So Serbia is a winnable game.
Now consider our next match against Ghana. Ghana is a formidable opponent, and with a win over Serbia to open their campaign, they will be in a confident and positive frame of mind. But by no stretch of the imagination is a win beyond Australia.
Australia has a strong record against Ghana, having played on six previous occasions, returning four wins, a draw and a loss. More importantly, the two sides have met twice in the past five years. In 2006, John Aloisi put Australia deservedly ahead before an unfortunate situation gave Ghana an easy equaliser. In 2008, Mile Sterjovski earned a 1-0 win for Australia. Whilst you can never read too much into friendly results and the squads for both of these encounters were very different to the current squads, these results demonstrate that a win clearly achievable for the Socceroos.
A 4-0 pasting by Germany makes it look like doom and gloom for Australia. But remember that most people expected Germany to win this game and the main disappointment was the margin. Australia now has to win both of its remaining games to progress and it’s a very difficult task. But take a closer look, and it’s not beyond us.
To look a little further into the future, I am intending to take a look at some of the younger members of Australia’s squad who might form the backbone of our next World Cup squad, so if you’re interested, keep an eye out.