Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Brave Australia lose 3-2 to Holland in the 2014 Fifa World Cup

This was cracker of a match, more so that the unfancied Australians took the game to the 2010 South Africa World Cup finalists. The Dutch looked very ordinary as they wondered what had hit them. It was one Tim Cahill. However, the former Everton kingpin's troops were brave in the fight but very naïve to let it slip.

After being guilty of a mistake in midfield, Australia presented Arjen Robben with a chance to run at their defence. The striker had to shrug off a very physical challenge and stay on his feet, run with the ball from the centre line creating a three versus one situation against a back paddling defence. Robben still had work to do as he contended with the approach of a sprinting defender who dived in desperately in vain. The Bayern Munich striker tucked the ball into the right of the net with the goalkeeper on his knees.

It was the response of the Socceroos that lit the stadium. After winning the ball in midfield as well, the ball was played to the left past a failing attempt to retrieve it. A diagonal ball was ferociously volleyed past the keeper by Cahill. The Australian’s lining up of the volley complemented the run as he ticked all the boxes of the key factors of volleying on the run. He kept his eyes on the flight of the ball, kept excellent concentration, arms wide for balance and struck the ball at the mid-point below the centre of the ball. The ball flew over the bemused goalkeeper into the roof of the net.

Australia had obvious goal-scoring opportunities that they squandered before half time. Both teams began to press each other up field and opened the game for each other. The seesaw affair continued to entertain. The Dutch were caught napping once more, failing to clear their lines and committing a handball by Janmaat in the penalty box. Wesley Sneider fouled his man in midfield and the resultant free kick ended with the ball in the penalty box. Up stepped Jedinak to send the goalkeeper the wrong way for a rare lead.

The Netherlands’ response was just as swift. Australia fluffed a glorious chance, the chance of the tournament so far, when they failed to utilise one of the three-versus-ones they had; one being overplayed by Cahill to his left when he could have reduced the weight of the pass or opted to passed to his right and the other where they passed over the responsibility and passed square. The bizarre choice to chest the ball goal wards summed up the day for the Socceroos, as they paid for it directly from that counter attack.

The Netherlands swiftly moved forward in numbers and with pace. They found the Australia defence flat footed and square. The threaded ball found its way to Robin van Persie who stabbed the ball home with Jason Davidson covering the offside against three attacking Dutch players. The marking was extremely bad and there was no man charging towards the passer and the scorer.

After several easy chances by Australia, Depay took a ball in midfield and glided across the central defence to crack a speculative long-range effort that swerved to the right and bounced in front of the goalkeeper who made a meal of it and paid dearly. The ball nestled at the right bottom corner of the net. Again, there was no pressing from the Australian midfield and no one charged towards the ball. Depay savoured the space and a free and perfect hit.

For their effort, it was such a disappointing result for Australia who should have won the match by a wide margin, against their fancied opponents. For that kind of display, they did not really deserve to go home this early. They were very clever in dealing with Robben’s right to left inward runs as they screened him eternally, however they were naïve enough to boot themselves out of the 2014 Brazil Fifa World Cup.