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Old 07-26-2007, 02:38 AM   #16
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Originally posted by COBL_04
That story about Iraq is a discrace. It just really makes you feel shit about humanity if people in a country where there is very little to be happy about suddenly has something to cheer and they get bombed.
It's sad, but the Iraqis will still cheer their team onto victory in Djarkarta.

It was just another day, another bomb.
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Old 07-26-2007, 10:09 PM   #17
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Les Murray, again, hits the nail on the head regarding Australia.

****************
A new beginning - Les Murray

It is an old and predictable thing, even a cliche, to say that failure only remains a failure if you refuse to learn from it.

Australia not making the last four in the Asian Cup, given that Asia is where its World Cup qualification challenge lies, can indeed be defined as failure.

Whatever Australia’s complacencies were, and they were monumental, the fact remains that Australia should expect, or at least legitimately target success in the World Cup qualifiers which, on this performance, hardly seems likely.

So now comes the hard bit: what to learn from the failure and to implement the rights measures to avoid the like of it again.

Following Australia’s last big failure - the 0:3 crash in Montevideo in 2001 – there were many who called for the head of coach Frank Farina, as if that would have solved everything. We at SBS, contrary to folklore, did not.

What we called for was a broad, independent technical inquiry in to the failure, saying that only after that inquiry should new directions be set, including the re-appointment or otherwise of Farina.

Johnny Warren went further by calling for the appointment of a high quality, internationally respected technical director.

There was no inquiry, no technical director and Farina was offered a new contract by Soccer Australia chairman Ian Knop on the flight home.

What did happen, fortunately for us, was that a year and a half later the Crawford Report brought in Frank Lowy and a thoroughly professional administrative regime that ran football like a sane, modern organisation.

That is what got Australia to last year’s World Cup finals and that is what created a national team to be proud of.

So one should be heartened and assured that now, unlike under Knop and his predecessors, there will not be a case of denial and the offices in College Street will be buzzing with reviews and counter-reviews over what went wrong.

Neither Lowy nor Ben Buckley will be happy boys and they will demand action.

It is clear that Australia has failed and why it failed, from our standpoint, can be divided in to four distinct areas:

1. Mental preparedness

The complacency was crippling. The squad appeared to have believed its own publicity (emanating out of what happened in Germany last year) and suffered from a paralysing lack of understanding and underestimation of Asian football standards.

The complacency (not to say arrogance) lifted the will and ambition of opponents, something Australia could have done without.

This was not helped by Australia’s blissful ignorance of the cultural norms of Asia, where humility and respect, especially by guests (and guests is what we still are in Asia), is everything. Referring to oneself as favourite in a contest is an insult in Asia.

Urgent work needs to be done in educating Australia’s representative players, and their fringe personnel, in Asian culture and behavioural expectations while engaging with Asia.

Lowy, John O’Neill and Buckley, all smart and well travelled men, have behaved impeccably in this respect in all their relations with Asia. But this has not filtered down to the teams and team personnel.

If we want to be in Asia we’d better start behaving like Asians or we shall be out as quickly as we have come in.

Let’s not forget that Australia has been resisted as an AFC member for a long time because of perceptions that it is supremacist. Worryingly and disappointingly, we have confirmed those suspicions in the last two weeks.

All that said we must all admit that we were all guilty of believing Australia could win the Asian Cup. But what we underestimated most of all was the Australian team’s capacity to underestimate its opponents.

2. The conditions

The hot and humid conditions were not relevant. Two of Australia’s opponents, Iraq and Japan, do not hail from tropical climates. Only eight of the Asian Cup’s 16-team quota are countries where hot and humid conditions are the norm.

3. The coach

In the case of three of Australia’s opponents (Oman, Iraq and Japan), Graham Arnold’s counterparts were older, foxy men, vastly experienced in international and Asian football. These men saw Australia’s weaknesses and saw them coming.

The lesson here is not whether Arnold is a good coach or if he’s better than Jorvan, Osim or Calderon. It is that he does not compare in terms of experience.

If Australia is to compete in this sphere it surely cannot afford to do so without a coach of at least comparable experience.

Arnold is a celebrated Socceroo and a man, a very decent man, driven by patriotic passion. And he is a pin-up among the well-meaning who proclaim that having an Australian coach at the helm of Australia, rather than a foreigner, is critical to national pride and football identity.

Fine. But the question has to be posed: what is more important, having an Australian coach for the sake of it or the country’s critical need to qualify for and do well in the World Cup?

The reality is that, while we have some fine coaches, and Arnold may well be one of them, we have none with the experience and guile required in the lofty world of international football (and I quote John Kosmina who said this very thing some months ago).

Putting Australia’s fortunes in the hands of an Australian, for the sheer sake of it, might be an ideal for the future but it is not for now.

It is this that Lowy appears to understand and it is this why he continues to pursue an Dick Advocaat or a Gerard Houllier in preference to Arnold.

It will not escape Lowy that all four teams in the last four of the Asian Cup have either European or South American coaches.

And, by the way, let’s not forget, the pursuit of an internationally experienced coach with a successful record, is Lowy’s strategy and not the idea of some members of the media who merely happen to agree with him but are now being accused of all manner of treason and treachery.

4. Technical limitations

This is easily the most important of the reasons Australia failed.

In my long memory, the only way Australian teams have ever beaten Asian teams has been with muscle and spirit, never with a higher level of skill.

In all my years of seeing Australian teams play Asian opponents, going back to 1965 and the thrashings by North Korea, I have not seen one instance where the Asian players didn’t have better individual technique than the Australians. And that included the likes of Indonesia, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

We kept beating them, mostly with our physical virtues, because in the good old days they all had local, naive, inexperienced coaches and they were a tactically inept rabble.

Then they awoke to the fact that all they needed were expert, imported coaches who could organise them and properly harness their technique.

That is why we are now struggling against the Asians, at all age levels, and that is why we will continue to struggle.

It’s astonishing that this diagnosis has not been made at a broad level by the gathering pundits, analysts and commentators. Colleague Philip Micallef is the only columnist so far to have hammered this point.

Blaming the failure on things like the weather, lack of player commitment etc is erroneous and dangerous, for it pre-supposes that Australia had the technical match of its opponents. It did not.

Addressing this malady, caused by over a century of technical mismanagement and neglect at junior level, is a long term task and it may be decades before there will be results.

It requires a massive cultural shift in development, a shift that will be resisted, especially by the incumbents who have governed our talent development structure for years.

But addressed it must be. The Asians have spoken and we have an awful lot of catching up to do.

Let that be the one big positive to come out of the Asian Cup.
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Old 07-28-2007, 12:03 AM   #18
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If Mark Viduka played for Japan we'd be world beaters.

As it stands we do the fancy stuff pretty well but often have almost zero end product. We've got loads of talented midfielders but not enough good old fashioned hitmen. Actually never mind Viduka, a guy like Yasser al-Qahtani would do.
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Old 07-28-2007, 09:01 PM   #19
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Vinnie Grella's spot on. Japan's conduct on-field against Australia in the QF was apaling. Play-acting all over the place. Takahara especially. OMan were prety bad against Australia too.
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Old 07-29-2007, 03:33 AM   #20
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South Korea won, I believe.
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Old 07-29-2007, 08:00 PM   #21
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What a result. Iraq, Champions of Asia. Fantastic result...
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Old 07-30-2007, 06:51 AM   #22
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Just read Grella's comments in today's paper. He comes off as a bit of a bad loser; maybe he's right that there are "nobodies" in Asian teams but well these nobodies from Iraq and Japan did beat the Socceroos, didn't they?

I missed the Japan match because I had tickets to see the RSC do King Lear (with Ian McKellen!) but by all accounts it was fairly even with Japan getting the upper hand but without much end product even before the sending off. The red card was apparently unmerited but to use it as an excuse for Australia's poor performance (which is what Grella seems to be doing) doesn't seem right, in my opinion.
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Old 07-30-2007, 10:15 AM   #23
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Grella was spot on though, in criticising the simulation by the Omanis and the Japs, it was quite appalling....FIFA claim to be cracking down on it, yet stil it plagues the beautiful game.
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