Cahill saves the day again, Australia keep World Cup hopes alive

Evan Morgan Grahame Columnist

By Evan Morgan Grahame, Evan Morgan Grahame is a Roar Expert

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    “He’s no different to any other player,” Ange Postecoglou said of Aaron Mooy before the Socceroos’ crunch second-leg tie against Syria.

    That remark wafted out into the air, and settled lazily alongside the manager’s earlier utterances; “fresh legs”, “par for the course”, each phrase sending unwelcome twitches spasming down the collective eyelid of an already anxious Australian public.

    The news that had lingered throughout the day, like elevating flatulence, that Mooy would be benched, caused pinched noses and waving hands around the country. Mooy was our best player in the first leg of this tie and is one of the few national team members getting regular game time in a top-tier European league.

    There was no injury or illness to point to. A yellow card – with another, if awarded in this leg, bringing a potential ban with it – was not an adequate excuse either.

    No, this was a purely tactical decision, to leave out one of our best players and – based on the most recent evidence against this opponent – our most productive playmaker. A gamble, to be sure, made in a match with so much at stake.

    The omission almost drowned out the indignation at seeing Matt Leckie returned to a full-back role, and Brad Smith restored to the starting line-up… almost.

    Aaron Mooy Football Australia Socceroos 2017

    Photo by Matt King/Getty Images

    In spite of Mooy’s absence, it was in fact a very attacking starting XI, with Tom Rogic and Tim Cahill brought in, as well as James Troisi, and the aforementioned attack-minded wing-backs. This was, remember, a game in which simply a clean sheet would be enough to progress.

    Syria scored after five minutes, and that clean sheet was shattered. Mark Milligan gave the ball away in midfield, and the lapse led to Omar Al Soma being played clear into the Australia box. He finished unerringly, spanking the ball over Mat Ryan.

    In the moments following, Smith – starved of playing time recently, save for a single cup appearance for Bournemouth – went down with an injury that immediately looked serious enough to force a substitution.

    Milligan’s error – a player so experienced and usually so reliable – had landed a hammer blow to the Roos’ confidence. Smith, having played on for a few minutes, was subbed for… Mooy, with ten minutes gone. It would have been farcical if it wasn’t so winding.

    But then Cahill scored an equaliser, and sweet air rushed back into the lungs, a glorious reprieve, manna from heaven.

    Leckie, in an advanced position, rushed down the wing and clipped an early cross into the box. The Syrian keeper lurched and hesitated, the ball spinning away from him. Cahill was unmarked, and the ball was dropping right onto his head. The move morphed suddenly from hopeful to inevitable, and Cahill nodded the ball into the net. This match was almost too much to bear, and 15 minutes hadn’t yet elapsed.

    Australia now had Robbie Kruse and Leckie in the wing-back spots, and it didn’t take long for Syria to make an attempt to exploit those areas. A lofted pass was sumptuously controlled on the left and the ball was then clipped toward the right. It spun a few agonising centimetres over the towering Al Soma, who might have scored were he a little taller. Kruse was not there to challenge the Syrian, and the marking in those deeper wing zones were radiating as areas of weakness.

    Troisi had a shot parried wide, Ibrahim Almeh at full stretch. Milos Degenek had to make a hasty clearance, wrapping his boot around a Syrian attacker from behind, in the box, near enough to head height. The game was far more end-to-end than Postecoglou would have wanted.

    With 25 minutes gone, Mooy slid through Kruse, who crossed for Rogic, who shot wide. Mooy then flicked through Troisi, who crossed for Cahill, whose side-footed shot was deflected wide.

    At the heart of all of this, Mooy was already making a mockery of his short-lived stint on the bench.

    Leckie shot firmly, having cut back sharply on the wing, but Almeh saved well. This was familiar; Australia were creating plenty of opportunities, but not taking them. Most of the productive progress was being made down the left, with Mooy pulling the strings, albeit hamstrung slightly by Kruse’s habit of wandering offside.

    Syria were placing ten men behind the ball as soon as Australia past the halfway line. The Socceroos were pushing numbers forward to match the personnel, with Milligan holding a reserved position. Fouls were common, and Milligan and Leckie earned yellow cards that may keep them out of any future playoff games. The match laboured toward the halftime whistle. The Roos had dominated, but things were still locked in wretched parity.

    The second half began tetchily, with Rogic yapping with a Syrian tackler who’d been nipping at his heels. Mooy had a stud applied to his calf, and went down, but no whistle was heard.

    Australia again assumed control of the play, with their red-shirted foes retreating in formation, teeth gritted and senses sharpened. Kruse and Leckie were – rightfully, considering the Syrian approach – playing as wingers, barely a thought spared for defensive positioning. Syria were feeding off bare counter-attacking scraps, flinging hopeful crosses into areas where outnumbered teammates had equally bare hopes of profiting.

    As the hour mark approached, Firas Al Khatib – the catalyst for Syria’s second-half comeback in the first leg – was readied on the touchline.

    The visitors were unconcerned with the ball over the top, and their defensive line was placed higher as a result, which drew the Australian full-backs up to make those runs Cahill could not, which created space on the counter, and Kruse’s inability to hit crosses with his left foot reduced his threat dashing toward the byline.

    It also meant the midfield was compressed, making it hard to pick passes and play through the lines. Indeed, this was a gut-churning affair, and Australia were doing their best wading through it. Ibrahim Almeh kicked away a fine Rogic shot, capping off a rare sequence where play was allowed to run through channels of clear air.

    Nikita Rukavytsya was subbed on for Troisi, and was pushed out onto the left wing, one presumes to place a left-footed player there. Kruse was moved into the middle, his second positional adjustment of the evening. With 15 minutes remaining, the teams were still locked together, barging and jostling, both furiously aware of the prize on offer, both fuelled by the distant scent of Russia 2018.

    Rukavytsya sliced a cross straight out of play. Al Khatib, slipping at the vital moment, inadvertently scuppered an extremely dangerous attack. Mardik Mardikian went down for an unnecessarily long time with cramp. This match was fraying at the edges, along with the patience of the 42,000-strong crowd.

    Added time arrived, and the teams were static, both sides anticipating the inevitable slog of extra time. The final whistle went.

    The referee needed a substitution for the game to carry on, with the fourth official replacing him in the middle. Three minutes in, the local fans broke out into a raucous cheer; no, not a goal, but Mahmoud Al Maowas had picked up his second yellow card and was sent off. Surely, the numerical advantage would take Australia over the top?

    Mooy sent the free kick whirling over the byline. Kruse sent a cross spiralling similarly out of play not long after. Tomi Juric replaced Rogic, who slunk off. Rogic had played well but – almost personifying the recent form of his team – had not made any tangible impression on the score.

    Tomas Rogic congratulated by team generic football

    AAP Image/Paul Miller

    The Syrians were making a four-course banquet of every foul, milking the clock for minutes at a time. Almeh made a snap stop from a Rukavytsya volley. The first half of extra time ended, and penalties loomed. The teams hydrated, kneaded the lactic acid out of their cramping muscles, and resumed.

    Shots flew. Counter attacks budded then died. Fouls punctuated the game. Then Kruse wriggled free, and clipped a cross into the centre of the Syrian box.

    The cross had no power behind it, and whoever met it would have to flex every neck muscle to score. Lucky, then, for Australia, it was Tim Cahill – our greatest ever goalscorer, and one of football’s greatest ever forehead-artists – who arrived on cue.

    Shoulder-to-shoulder with a Syrian foe, Cahill threw his head violently at the floating ball, sending it crashing through the limp hand of Almeh, and into the net.

    Tim Cahill happy

    Photo by Matt King/Getty Images

    The crowd erupted, roaring in pure relief and fiery ecstasy. Two goals from Tim, two more gilded pages added to his glittering Socceroos story.

    Milos Degenek made a heroic challenge in his own box to keep Syria out. Juric held opponents at bay, shielding the ball, keeping the game-clock ticking down. Minutes remained, seconds even. Syria had a free kick, with Al Soma over it. He walloped the ball against the post, with Ryan beaten and flailing. The home crowd writhed.

    The final whistle went, and Australia had made it, with Cahill the hero again.

    This tie was torturous, much more difficult than it should have been. Syria are a team that haven’t been able to play at home for seven years, a country wracked with problems much larger than football, where 100 professional footballers have been abducted and disappeared by the regime since the beginning of the revolution in 2011.

    Almost man-to-man, the Socceroos have better players than the Syrians, to a degree that should have negated any fairy tale momentum the visitors may have accrued over the course of qualifying. Syria flew commercial economy from Malaysia, and were the width of a goalpost away from knocking Australia out.

    We should celebrate, we should hold Cahill – who played all 120 minutes, and is scorer, now, of 50 goals for his country – aloft as a true sporting hero, and we should look forward to meeting Honduras, Panama or the United States.

    Perhaps that’s enough for now, and a cynical postmortem isn’t necessary. Russia is still within reach.

    CHECK OUT THE SOCCEROOS HIGHLIGHTS BELOW

    Evan Morgan Grahame
    Evan Morgan Grahame

    Evan Morgan Grahame is a Melbourne-based journalist. Gleaning what he could from his brief career as a painter, the canvas of the football pitch is now his subject of contemplation, with the beautiful game sketching new, intriguing compositions every week. He has been one of The Roar's Expert columnists since 2016. Follow him on Twitter @Evan_M_G.

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    The Crowd Says (136)

    • October 11th 2017 @ 7:30am
      Onside said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      Ange Postecoglou would give an opponent money to play cards against him.

    • October 11th 2017 @ 7:46am
      AGO74 said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      A more chaotic opening 10 minute I have not ever seen in a Socceroos game with the goal for Syria created (yet again) by an Australian turnover. Postecoglou got lucky last night – smiths injury allowed Australia to place on our best player. he was outstanding in 1st leg – hence the decision to bench him after his 1st leg performance smacks of arrogance. Recklessness even. Same with putting on rukavytsa in both legs – a guy who hasn’t been selected for 4 years and even when selected previously has been erratic at best and has no experience playing in this system is out on field for most important qualifiers in years.

      Timmy. You legend. Some may criticise you for your perceived desire of “legacy” et al, yet he showed last night what he has done for Australia again and again and again.

      We got lucky with a few things last night. Smiths injury allowing Mooy to come on (sorry brad you showed against Japan last time you aren’t up for it), the red card (there is no way the regular ref in 90 minutes would have sent him off (it takes a lot for refs at that level to issue a 2nd yellow) and the width of a post at the end.

      I thought our back 3 was very good. Matt Jurman I’ve felt for some time is a player who should play for Socceroos and I think he showed enough over these two legs to support his continued selection. Crucially he is used to playing in a back 3 for his Korean club which is a huge advantage for us.

      We were the better team over two legs – dominating but never putting away as is the way with this team. They were even better last night than the 1st leg and a worthy foe. Hence if the Syrians had had won I can’t have complained.

      At the end of 120 minutes the reaction of the players was telling. Sure they were exhausted but their reaction told more of relief than joy. Much like most in the crowd I think.

      • October 11th 2017 @ 10:24am
        punter said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        I thought Jurman was outstanding, he has kept on improving in the past 2 years.

        • October 11th 2017 @ 11:32am
          Tezza said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

          Agree Punter, Wasn`t a Jurman fan when he was with the Roar but the move south has certainly suited him and he was rock solid last night

          • October 11th 2017 @ 1:15pm
            Fadida said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

            He was

    • October 11th 2017 @ 7:50am
      Waz said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Huge sigh of relief in Brisbane ….. old players can play after all 👀

      • October 11th 2017 @ 11:30am
        Tezza said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:30am | ! Report

        Waz, it was interesting to hear Aloisi say That he thought it was the best that Kruse has played for a long time.I couldn`t see anything positive about Kruze except a cross that Tim Cahill scored from and I lost count of the number of times he received the ball wide in an attacking situation and his first pass was straight back to where it just came from. I hope John isn`t going to model the roar`s style this year on that sort of play. Your thoughts?

        • October 11th 2017 @ 11:33am
          Fadida said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          Even the cross was a nothing ball. It was all down to Cahill’s amazing leap

          • October 11th 2017 @ 12:59pm
            punter said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

            Now that being harsh Fadida.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 1:16pm
              Fadida said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

              The ball was lobbed in with no pace on it

              • October 11th 2017 @ 4:26pm
                punter said | October 11th 2017 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

                Like I said harsh, not a huge fan of everything Kruse does, far from it.

                But look at it again, the running of the ball in the 110th minute, the vision to run into space, the no look hook lob cross right into the danger zone.

                Sometimes you just have to give credit even though you don’t like him, think back post before he scored in Malaysia.

      • October 11th 2017 @ 12:16pm
        Melange said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

        Love it Waz, well said!

    • October 11th 2017 @ 7:58am
      Nemesis said | October 11th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      This is World Cup football.

      Ange sums it up beautifully in the post-match presser (quote below). He’s too polite to say it, but basically he’s saying too many in Australia are ignorant about global events & global sport.

      “It just astounds me that people think this is supposed to be easy.

      You saw what it meant to the opposition tonight.

      Show me the evidence that we’ve cruised through to a World Cup.. even the 1st year in Asia we got through strong under Pim Verbeek… but we weren’t smashing teams.

      Last year we got through on the last game (with 10 mins to play).

      There is no evidence to say anyone in this Confederation is easy. And it shouldn’t be. There’s a massive prize at stake.

      If people think we’re far superior & we should smash the opposition. They’re going to be disappointed because they haven’t been watching.”

      • October 11th 2017 @ 8:50am
        AGO74 said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        Anyone with half a skerrick of football knowledge knows this. Trying to educate those who refuse to be educated on it is pretty much pointless. That said, I query why he said it? My reasoning being that is he trying to cover for some of his own deficiencies in introducing this system? – 1 clean sheet in 11 matches is terrible. We beat Saudis 3-2 yet they gifted us two goals. People talk about the Chile game and yes that was excellent – but we were aided by the most cavalier team in world football (they at least have the cattle to back it up). Yet again last night we have a coach who is making strange selections with no real sense or logic eg playing 3 number 10’s despite never having done so before. Don’t listen to me – listen to the players.

        http://www.theroar.com.au/2017/10/11/angry-aaron-mooys-shock-socceroos-benching/

        • October 11th 2017 @ 8:55am
          Nemesis said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

          He said it in response to a question from a journo during the post match presser. The question is very hard to hear, but I assume it had to do with “was the opposition harder than your expected”.

          We played a terrific 2nd half against Germany in the Confed Cup. 1st half we were smashed. 2nd half (after we conceded the obligatory cheap goal) we played football that was wonderful to watch. I didn’t want the match to end.

          But, I agree, the WCQs have been awful to watch. We have heaps of possession, which is good since we were generally outplayed during WCQs for 2010 & 2014; but, there is no movement. Everyone is static. When Syria got the ball, players would stream forward to support.

          Our 1st goal was terrific. Rogic gets ball in his half & immediately Leckie runs forward into the space along the right. Rogic delivers, Leckie passes with 1st touch. Goal. 2-3 seconds from Rogic getting the ball, to ball in the net.

          • October 11th 2017 @ 9:07am
            AGO74 said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

            It was a terrific goal. Leckie has really grown this year – adding football smarts to his undoubted athletic prowess. Good header from Timmy to finish off but it’s the lead up which was outstanding.

            Unfortunately another item you note – obligatory cheap goal – is seemingly entering chronic stages with this team at the moment. I don’t recall us ever conceding so many cheap goals or near misses from cheap turnovers. I swear about half goals conceded this year have come from this. The question is why?

            • October 11th 2017 @ 9:17am
              Nemesis said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:17am | ! Report

              The powers that be have made the call that the AUS public & AUS psyche want proactive & attacking football. So, no matter if we concede 8, as long as we score 9.

              I’m ok with this strategy, except we aren’t yet at the stage of scoring freely.

              Last night we were virtually camped inside the Syrian half for most of the game. But, every time the ball was lost, the Syrians could pump it forward & it’s suddenly the momentum shifts. Only takes a slip & we’re in trouble.

              I’ve watched a fair bit of u17, u20 teams over past 2 years.

              I’ve never seen our youth team dominate possession in Asia like we have over the past 2 years. But, it comes at a price. We are extremely vulnerable if we lose the ball in the midfield. The opposition attack quickly & with 1-2 passes it’s a one-on-one with the AUS GK & we usually concede.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 9:33am
                AGO74 said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

                Sounds familiar…..

              • October 11th 2017 @ 11:28am
                Rhys said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:28am | ! Report

                Just my opinion but I don’t think we should be playing 3 at the back. Sure some of the players might be used to that formation at club level but at an international level we seem to lack the ability to defend a counter once it breaks down in midfield, which usually results in, as AGO74 put it, the ‘obligatory cheap goal’ which we had to witness AGAIN last night.
                If we do make it to the world cup the much more talented teams, no offence to Syria, will easily exploit this. I say lets change to a back 4 until we can stop these cheap goals from happening.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 9:34am
              rl said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

              I told my son (9yrs old) to watch Leckie closely last night and boy, he didn’t disappoint! And forget that outstanding cross for Cahill’s first, all the off the ball efforts and 1%ers are what I wanted my boy to see and understand.

              As a relative football novice, I struggle to see Kruse’s value to the team as a starter – while he can be relied upon to deliver one quality moment (i.e. for Cahill’s second), is that really compensation for the litany of cheap turnovers and limp crosses? (albeit I do acknowledge he puts in a lot of off the ball runs that don’t get rewarded, however he did incur a lot of offside calls too)

              And similarly while I do see the danger that Rogic presents, last night on a number of occasions he ignored the opportunity to lay the ball off to an unmarked player in favour of a low percentage play, and usually resulted in turning the ball over. Again, I’m a relative novice and if there’s something I’m not seeing in his game I’m happy to be corrected.

              Anyway, well done Aust, and commiserations to Syria who put up an enormous fight.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 9:40am
                Nemesis said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

                Agree with much of your observations, but one point in defence of Robbie Kruse. He’s a right footed player & so he’s never going to be technically perfect with crosses with the left foot. But, I agree, he should be doing better and, the ball to Cahill for the 2nd goal shows us he can do better.

                Now, imagine if we had Goodwin playing on that left side; or even Behich.

                But, Ange is the coach & In Ange I Trust.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 9:47am
                Square Nostrils said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

                rl

                What Rogic does at times is try to be too fancy with his tricks, sometimes it works but in do or die situations like last night mostly it doesn’t because of the unique intensity of International football
                So no novice in your observation that he(hence Australia) would have benefited more by him using his ball skills to hold up the ball, then lay it off to an unmarked player.
                He has a Futsal background , sometimes last night it showed.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 9:50am
                spruce moose said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

                @ Nemesis

                Begs the question why a right footed player is selected to start on the left wing though?

              • October 11th 2017 @ 10:04am
                punter said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

                I think for a novice, you are pretty well spot on, Leckie was outstanding. Many are wondering the same about Kruse.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 11:18am
                Phil of Sydney said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

                Many are saying Kruse is a right footed player and was playing on the left and it was a problem for him.

                There are some very well known attaching players in the world that do just this. I can think of an Argentinian that is a natural left footer that prefers to play on the right. I think there is a Portuguese player that is a natural right footer that prefers to play on the left, or right in front of goal.

                Of course they both cut back into the middle and score plenty of goals.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 11:29am
                rl said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

                thanks all, I hadn’t realized that Kruse was effectively being asked to play out of position. Which does speak to his qualities as a team player.

                Rogic is frustrating – I can see his quality, but his decision-making is poor. Some more patience reqd.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 3:42pm
                Matt said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

                i agree, kruse is a nice guy and athletic, more of a bench player for me, the socceroos lack quality crosses and corners. I dont care who they fish out of the A-League aslong as they can cross!

                For me it could be a damn newcastle jets player for all i care i just want better crossing!

                I also wanna give Maclarren more game time …

        • Roar Rookie

          October 11th 2017 @ 8:55am
          Stevo said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

          Yep, of course Ange would say that wouldn’t he! What he can’t gloss over is that we have struggled, got lucky last night and of course, required Timmy to come to the rescue.

          • October 11th 2017 @ 9:03am
            Nemesis said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

            Lucky? Why lucky? We totally dominated the match. Syria would’ve been lucky to win, since they hardly touched the ball.

            Leckie & Kruse; plus Mooy & Rogic were as vital to the 2 goals Australia scored, as was Tim.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 9:07am
              Waz said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

              76% possession, 25 shots, 2 goals.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 11th 2017 @ 9:31am
                The Phantom Commissioner said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

                Those stats tell me one thing, we are nowhere near efficient enough in attack to be so open at the back.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 10:47am
                punter said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

                TPC, bang on, we don’t have the players efficient enough to take advantage of the all this possession.

          • October 11th 2017 @ 10:03am
            chris said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

            Come on Stevo – how were we lucky? Yes they hit the post in the last minute. Is that what you mean?
            How about all the other chances we had and the dodgy pen that they got? Does that not feature in your summation of “got lucky last night”?

          • October 11th 2017 @ 10:11am
            punter said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

            Yeah I was there last night & I wasn’t sure how we were lucky.

      • October 11th 2017 @ 9:29am
        TK said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        We all understand it’s hard. Made harder still by benching one of our mainstay midfield players in Mooy. Maybe he was trying to teach him a lesson – did Aaron shirk his laps at training?

      • October 11th 2017 @ 10:06am
        Will said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        “Show me the evidence that we’ve cruised through to a World Cup.. even the 1st year in Asia we got through strong under Pim Verbeek… but we weren’t smashing teams. ”

        So which is it? “Cruise through” and “smashing teams” are different things, and when you look at the 2010 qualifying:

        Australia W 6/ D 2/ L 0

        If that’s not “cruising through” then I don’t know what is.

        Note: I’m not saying the Asian conference is easy… but there is no denying our national team standard has dropped heavily in the last decade.

        • October 11th 2017 @ 10:15am
          punter said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

          Not if you actually watch the football & not just look at the results.

          Under Pim, we played some very dire football & people point out but we still won, but if you watch the games we were outplayed & very lucky to win some games in the middle East.

          Under Pim we played to get results, simple as that, there is no legacy. It was dire football.

          • October 11th 2017 @ 10:23am
            Brian said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

            We played to make the World Cup. If you want to watch football, watch Uruguay, then watch Syria, then have a think about how far we have declined in 12 years

            • October 11th 2017 @ 10:29am
              punter said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

              We have not declined, the others improved faster, Uruguay today is a lot better team the Uruguay in 2005, the reason because in the last 2 WC campaign, we only played to qualify.
              Ange is trying something different, something that Australia has never been very good at, playing football to win games, we are being shown up.

              If you want one example, I give you Timmy Cahill, our greatest Socceroo, but as a football player would be lucky to be rated amongst our top ten

              • October 13th 2017 @ 11:25am
                Rudi said | October 13th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

                We may not have declined but that is a fair argument that Australia has stagnated in its development at all levels not just the national team.

          • October 11th 2017 @ 11:18am
            13th Man said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

            I want results. I don’t really care how ‘pretty’ our football is, if we’re not winning then it’s not good football.
            Winning games is all that matters.

            Why in the world you would take your best player off in a must win match is beyond me. It would be like Richmond playing the GF without Dustin Martin. Mooy is an absolute gun and should always be starting XI unless he’s injured or suspended.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 5:09pm
              Lionheart said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

              “absolute gun” – yeah, guess that’s why we never score off his corners or free kicks.

        • October 11th 2017 @ 10:33am
          Ballymore said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          Looking at the results 7 years after they occured it may appear to be cruise, but it wasn’t.

          Bahrain (a) in Nov 2008 – we were completely outclassed but Bresciano scores from a Schwarzer long ball to win 1-0 in injury time.

          In the earlier round v. China (a) we need an injury time (? – or close) Schwarzer penalty save to resuce a point.

          Plus with the odd exception (v Qatar in early 2008 and late 2008 @ home – Docklands and Brisbane) the matches were somewhere been tedious and excruiating.

          • October 11th 2017 @ 11:19am
            Will said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

            Of course you look at the results because results matter. They are the ONLY thing that matters. Go over to the AFC and say “well we didn’t win many games but we had good possession and I think we did a good job. That’s enough, right?”.

            Last I checked a goal in injury time is worth a goal in regular time. You’re grasping for reasons to downplay their performance when they lost 0 matches and conceded 1 goal the entire fourth round.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 4:11pm
              Ballymore said | October 11th 2017 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

              I never said results didn’t matter.

              I said it wasn’t a cruise.

        • October 11th 2017 @ 11:42am
          Nemesis said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:42am | ! Report

          @Will

          If you ask that question, it’s clear that you didn’t watch any of the WCQ matches for 2010. I mean the whole 90 mins. Not the FoxSports highlights.

          We played 7 away matches we won one easily.

          Here are the 7 Away Results

          26 Mar 2008 China PR 0 0 Australia
          8 Jun 2008 Iraq 1 0 Australia
          15 Jun 2008 Qatar 1 3 Australia
          11 Sep 2008 Uzbekistan 0 1 Australia
          20 Nov 2008 Bahrain 0 1 Australia
          11 Feb 2009 Japan 0 0 Australia
          7 Jun 2009 Qatar 0 0 Australia

          China match Schwarzer saved a penalty around the 90′. That simple save probably saved us from being eliminated at the 1st stage of competition.

      • October 11th 2017 @ 10:20am
        Brian said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        Since Ange needs some evidence. In 2010 we cruised in. In the group we were undefeated and conceded 1 goal. That’s 1 goal in the whole group. Ange’s team concedes one goal minimum every game.

        His non slection of Mooy was a disgrace. I’d like to see any evidence from anyone that Troisi or Kruse are better then Mooy. How do you play 20 qualifying games plus an Asian Cup, a Confederations Cup and friendlies and have no idea what your XI is every game?

        Of course there is no chemistry. We are damm lucky, lucky the ball hit the post, lucky the Syrians don’t play at home, lucky with the red card, lucky to get the 2nd leg at home, lucky to be in Asia, lucky the playoff will be CONCACAF and not CONEMBOL. FIFA wants the US and China to make the World Cup where possible and hopefulyl we are going to ride that economic thinking all the way to Russia. However we are poor, saved by a 37 yo. Syrians didn’t even have enmough money to bring a full bench across.

        • October 11th 2017 @ 10:37am
          punter said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          Syria was lucky the ball hit the post twice in the 1st game, lucky to get a penalty, lucky to play first leg at home, lucky Milligan made a mistake that got their first goal.
          Cahill was saved by Ange in Malaysia, did not play a second to play last night, shrewd tactics.

          • October 11th 2017 @ 12:05pm
            Tezza said | October 11th 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

            Punter, Syria were centimetres from going through to the next round when they had 10 men against our 11 so I guess you couls say they were also a litlle unlucky.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 1:02pm
              punter said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

              Tezza we were centimetres from scoring 3 goals in Thailand, which would’ve meant we would have qualified directly. We were centimetres from going 2 up against Syria. They also got a dodgy penalty. But was told we were not unlucky it was poor shots, now that is why we were not lucky.

        • October 11th 2017 @ 10:38am
          chris said | October 11th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

          No mention of the penalty that Syria got?
          You are becoming tedious with your negative comments.

    • October 11th 2017 @ 8:50am
      chris said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

      Australia deserved to go through as we were the much better side over 2 legs. And I don’t totally disagree with Mooy’s omission from the starting 11.
      Ange usually gets it right with the players he picks and last night was no different. Ruka coming on caused their tiring defence all sorts of problems.
      Would have liked us to be way tighter in the first 30 mins or so, but if you actually look at the game in its entirety the defenders did an outstanding job. Degenek is improving every game and that tackle he made in the last few mins was outstanding.

    • October 11th 2017 @ 8:53am
      bazza said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

      This guy you all banging on about corners were crap and poor quality. Yet not mention.
      There was a lack of tactics variation in the game by Australia.

      • October 11th 2017 @ 9:09am
        Birdman said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

        agree – surely someone else could do better at taking corner kicks than Mooy – lumping it in time and time again with no power or trajectory and never to a dangerous spot.

      • October 11th 2017 @ 9:56am
        Lionheart said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        absolutely terrible corners, and free kicks. I know he’s sent in some screamers but how long is it since we’ve scored off a Mooy dead ball?

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