Some positive lessons to be learned from the ACL

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    Brisbane Roar's Henrique celebrates his goal against the Central Coast Mariners during the second leg of the major semi-final in Gosford on Sunday, April 8, 2012. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

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    An ACL campaign which started with so much promise for Brisbane Roar ended with a second defeat to an unheralded Japanese side.

    But having labelled the trip to Tokyo a “learning experience”, new Roar coach Rado Vidosic will have picked up plenty of tips from his team’s 4-2 defeat to FC Tokyo at a rain-swept National Stadium on Wednesday.

    For one thing, ACL participants tend to be much tougher to beat on their own turf than they are on their travels.

    Ironically, before the latest round of matches the Roar were the only Group F team to have lost at home after losing to both FC Tokyo and Ulsan Hyundai in Brisbane.

    And once again it was a pair of home-grown Japanese talents who lead the way for the Gasmen at Kokuritsu.

    Hideto Takahashi and Kenta Mukuhara both progressed from the youth team at FC Tokyo, both are nominally defenders and both proved they could finish inside 20 minutes.

    These are traits we need to develop in Australia.

    But on the whole Matchday 5 was a positive experience for A-League sides.

    Central Coast Mariners proved that with their minds on the job they can get positive results in Asia.

    There’s always much hand-wringing about the style of football employed by A-League sides but the Mariners proved that a direct approach can unsettle travelling Asian opponents.

    And Daniel McBreen’s early rampage made any potential gamesmanship from Tianjin a moot point.

    I see the word “dive” come up a lot every time an Australian team plays against an Asian side, so I might as well use it myself and offer some free advice in the process.

    Don’t dive in. It’s a simple as that.

    I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve seen an ACL opponent collect a pass, wait a split second then tumble to the ground as one of our A-League representatives clatters into them from behind.

    And then our A-League representative – let’s for argument’s sake call him John Hutchinson – looks down at the player, then at the referee and mouths off about diving.

    Why is this necessary? We could eliminate much of the gamesmanship if our A-League players simply refrained from charging into opponents like a runaway freight train every time they touched the ball.

    It’s particularly annoying when it happens nowhere near a dangerous part of the pitch.

    That’s not to condone diving or gamesmanship, it’s simply recognition that a lot of Asian sides play smarter than A-League teams.

    At any rate, that’s to divert off on a tangent because I was pleased to see the Mariners bounce back from their recent thrashing at the hands of a rampant Seongnam.

    And I was also pleased to see Adelaide United hold Bunyodkor to a scoreless draw and qualify once again for the knock-out stage.

    The Uzbeks have flattered to deceive in the ACL and never really looked to have Adelaide’s measure.

    And while they’re not scoring many goals, is it purely a coincidence that Adelaide’s best results have come with assistant trainer Luciano Trani and not head coach John Kosmina at the helm? Food for thought.

    At any rate, Matchday 5 may have yielded a mixed bag of results for Australian teams in the ACL but it should also have proved a positive experience overall.

    Playing in Asia is a “learning experience” for all of us and on the basis of this week’s results, it seems we’re heading in the right direction.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (33)

    • May 5th 2012 @ 1:56am
      Edday said | May 5th 2012 @ 1:56am | ! Report

      Players have to realise they shouldn’t tackle from behind. Simple as that.

    • May 5th 2012 @ 8:48am
      Qantas supports Australian Football said | May 5th 2012 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      Since the departure of Ange from the B-Roar FC, the morale of the team is falling apart. I could see it in their play.. The meltdown has begun and it’s going to get worse next season..

      • May 5th 2012 @ 8:59am
        Realfootball said | May 5th 2012 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        Boring. Very, very boring.

        Could be time to buy a campervan and head round Australia, or are you too old for that?

        • May 5th 2012 @ 9:28am
          Qantas supports Australian Football said | May 5th 2012 @ 9:28am | ! Report

          You shouldn’t’ shoot the messenger but head the warning… you conceded four goals…

          • May 5th 2012 @ 5:44pm
            JohnL said | May 5th 2012 @ 5:44pm | ! Report

            Ever since Clive Palmer came out and said he didn’t like the game you have been a very bitter and twisted person, making continual snipes at the FFA and Brisbane Roar. If you cant offer any constructive or insightful insights, then why not take a step away from the keyboard and enjoy life. Becoming bitter and twisted is not good for your health.

            • May 5th 2012 @ 6:42pm
              Qantas supports Australian Football said | May 5th 2012 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

              Well JohnL we GCU supporters have been subjected to even worse bitter snipes from you roar supporters for one RealFootball.. I have just stated what I saw on the pitch in your ACL encounter nothing more… Anyways I’m a SFC supporter now if you didn’t know…

              • May 5th 2012 @ 7:27pm
                JohnL said | May 5th 2012 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

                They way i see it, you are not a football supporter at all. Otherwise you would be supporting the code. When was the last thing you wrote that was constructive?

                By the way, I watched the game on Wednesday night and I have no idea where you come to the conclusion that the team is falling apart (10 days after they won the GF).

                They experimented with a different formation, and also played the game at a faster pace than they have been all season here in the A-League. Explain to me how that is a team falling apart?

                Obviously Rado knows how he wants his team to play next season. And I am sure, that if the Roar work on improving their intensity and speed so that what we saw on Wednesday night becomes part and parcel of all A-League teams, then we as a country have taken a massive step forward.

                Yes we conceded 4 goals, but our defence has not been as tight since De Vere left. Am sure Rado has made notes on how to improve this. Only way you find out your limitations is to be taken beyond them. As a supporter, I have thoroughly enjoyed the two games against Tokyo. In my opinion they have been one of the best teams to have played at Suncorp in many a year.

              • May 7th 2012 @ 10:34am
                Qantas supports Australian Football said | May 7th 2012 @ 10:34am | ! Report

                JohnL when was the last time the Roar let in 4 goals??? There is your answer..

              • May 7th 2012 @ 2:45pm
                JohnL said | May 7th 2012 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

                Qantas, when was the last time the Roar played a team of the same quality as FC Tokyo, away from home?

              • May 8th 2012 @ 10:18am
                totti said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:18am | ! Report

                i thought brisbane played well. just made a couple of porr defensive errors.

              • May 8th 2012 @ 10:24am
                Qantas supports Australian Football said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:24am | ! Report

                Hey, you were the guys that said you were going to make a statement in the ACL—Oh yeah first out..!

    • May 5th 2012 @ 9:01am
      Realfootball said | May 5th 2012 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      • May 5th 2012 @ 9:29am
        Qantas supports Australian Football said | May 5th 2012 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        Just about the best thing you have said since you have been on this site…

    • May 5th 2012 @ 9:50am
      j binnie said | May 5th 2012 @ 9:50am | ! Report

      Mike -Started this article with high hopes of a tactical insight as to where our teams should be looking for improvement but finished disappointed in where your took us. The “lowest” part of the article is surely where you attempted in a roundabout way to hint that Adelaide’s “success” may be due to the fact that in this competition they may have had a change of coach???. This is an incredibly “naive” comment with the real coach sitting beside your nominee, who is simply fulfilling a requirement of the Asian competition.
      Give Kosmina credit where it is due. He approached this competition with a plan & that plan has worked for him & his team.Was the plan all that hard to follow?, not to anyone who has watched the game develop over the last 50 years. JK, with a team that struggled in it’s home competition approached the first games in the comp. recognising that the players he could run up against may be just a little better than those at his disposal , more-so in the psychological aspect of their game.He embarked on a plan years old to utilise his player’s physical attributes & by flooding the midfield & back third with bodies made it extremely hard for his opponents to practice what they do well,move quickly with short passing & quick ball retention.The plan worked & with the success his team’s confidence began to grow.Wish them luck in the immediate future.
      That brings us to Roar.For 2 years they have played a game novel to Australia & have been good enough at that game to achieve great success in the local competition. Their approach??? They decide to try their system in the Asian comp.
      Outcome – The Roar game is based on a high rate of ball possession & in doing this, the use of long passes is reduced to a minimum but this puts added pressure on the ball players and potential receivers, for their opponents will quickly close down & put pressure not only on a player’s first touch capability but his ability to pass while playing what is commonly known as “one touch football”. In this area the Roar players showed they have to improve greatly in the midfield area where, in today’s game, most of the “action ” takes place.
      I feel Rado recognised this & used 2 defensive midfielders in an attempt to close the hole in Roar’s defensive set-up that was made evident in the draw with the nine man Victory all those months ago.Only one problem showed in this “plan’ & that was the fact that neither of his DM’s are gifted with exceptional pace & so, not being prolific ball winners, when playing against speedy opponents like this Japanese outfit were inadvertently putting great pressure on their own back four when the Japs chose to by-pass them with their short sharp raids. Obviously Rado’s intention was with 2 DM’s his wing backs could attack more often but such was the speed of the counter attacks that Smith & Adnan were constantly dragged wide to defend against flank runners who simply squared the ball inside where the midfield runners of Tokyo were taking up position offering targets to the ball player.
      So ,what to do?. Back to work on the training field no doubt ,but one doesn’t have to be Einstein to work out that if the Roar want to play this game in Asia next term I feel they are going to need some more,better equipped, personnel to take their game to the required level. We can but hope. This campaign was not a failure but an education.We can only hope the lessons have been learned. jb

      • May 5th 2012 @ 10:30am
        Qantas supports Australian Football said | May 5th 2012 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        When a successful coach leaves a team, a bit of morale goes with him—especially on the eve of an important match like an ACL fixture. Your analysis was interesting and probably correct, with how it was played out on the pitch, however, the team was also suffering from postmortem stress when Ange announced he was leaving the club when he did.. I reckon this team’s mourning is going to continue well into next season. I don’t think Rado is the man that will be able to stop the bleeding of emotions displayed by key personnel Erik Paartalu. How many more feel the same way he does? This to me says, as nice a fella Rado is, the players don’t really have the faith in him as their new coach.. Where as Kossie on the other hand, is riding high with his team’s 100% commitment—a far less talented outfit—all the players are responding to his coaching style.. I don’t know if I can say the same for Rado…

      • May 8th 2012 @ 10:20am
        phutbol said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        JB, If AU’s tactics are working so well against ACL opposition, why didnt JK employ them against the ‘inferior’ A-Legue oppostion as well?

        Also, it cant be proven obviously but I do think Roar would have caned Bunyodkor and Pohang. they didnt appear to be anywhere near the quality of FC Tokyo and to a lesser extent Ulsan.

        • May 8th 2012 @ 1:41pm
          j binnie said | May 8th 2012 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

          phutbol – John answered your question last night on TWG. In case you missed it, he said he had had a look at what had happened in the past and decided to change his tactics to meet an unknown quality of opposition. Sound familiar???.
          As I said, give the man credit where it is due.
          Roar?????. They chose a different path altogether. Using the game plan / tactics they had used in an all conquering 2 seasons in the HAL they decided to test that system against Asian opposition for the first time.Was it successful or did it fail???? A good question,but what IMO it did show up was a lack of certain elements in their tactical plan that could prevent them using this plan against top Asian opposition.Everyone who knows anything about football knows of the Roar’s susceptibility to breaks through the middle by fast moving forwards, Archie Thompson showed that up way back in mid season,and yet Ange apparently chose to ignore that flaw for the overall progress of his system.
          I think Rado tried to close that gap against Tokyo in the second game but his choice of two defensive midfielders,neither of whom are blessed with high rates of ball winning capability or for that matter high rates of recovery pace meant that the changes,while well meant,did nothing to solve the problem. As he has said, they tried something, and although he was not altogether pleased with the outcome, he did learn something. The next game should see improvement if the lessons have been learned. jb

    • Roar Guru

      May 5th 2012 @ 11:31am
      Atawhai Drive said | May 5th 2012 @ 11:31am | ! Report

      Mike, Tokyo FC might be an unheralded team, but they impressed me mightily when they beat Brisbane 2-0 in monsoonal conditions in Brisbane on March 6. And they impressed me all over again when they won this week in Tokyo, again in the rain.

      You don’t see passing like that every day. It’s brilliant to watch.

      Are our teams heading in the right direction? Let’s hope so.

      • May 8th 2012 @ 1:55pm
        Clayts said | May 8th 2012 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

        Agree with this. Tokyo are a pretty decent side from what I have seen. Would have beaten any of the A-League teams. For the Roar to put 2 past them I thought was a decent effort.

    • May 5th 2012 @ 1:04pm
      pete4 said | May 5th 2012 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

      I think Brisbane will obviously learn from this experience. Adelaide and CCM have been in this competition before and experience counts in the ACL! Even in Europe look what happened to Man City in the UCL

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