Thursday, August 13, 2009

Trappatoni’s Ashes: Ireland - Socceroos report(boasting)

One of Australia’s best performances under Pim Verbeek led to a flattering 3-0 score line over a luckless Irish in Limerick on Wednesday.

With the pressure of having to qualify for a World Cup off the Socceroos shoulders the team played a more fluid up tempo brand of football. Two quality goals by Tim Cahill and a long rage bomb by David Carney during injury time added a gloss to what was a polished performance by the Socceroos.

Before the game, I was involved with some pre-match banter with Damien an English based Irish friend of mine.I put forward to Damien that the Socceroos were going to kick some Irish butt.

Damien’s rebuttal was swift and to the point: “I think its Aussie arse that'll be kicked tonight’ cried a confident Damien.

“Remember your lot is just made up of the one's of our lot that were stupid enough to get caught by the English years ago! And Tim Cahill should have been playing for us anyway.”

Cahill has a grandmother from Cork and at one point was chased by Ireland before he played for Australia. "I didn't know that, I thought he was half-Samoan," said Verbeek. "I'm just glad that Tim was on the pitch for us” the Dutchman said after the game.

A confident Damien was sure the team coached by Italian legend Giovanni Trapattoni would give the Socceroos a tough game:

“Keep an eye on this Ireland team - we might have to meet again next summer! Trappatoni has got us playing at an extremely decent, functional, boring and consistent level and the odd flash of brilliance from the likes of McGeady, Duff, Keane, Hunt or Steven Ireland (if he ever returns) might just take us to the very top!” finished the excited leprechaun.

So with Damien’s warning I expected the Socceroos to be given a hard game as the Irish side was filled with Premier League players and an important World Cup qualifying game against Cyprus was only a month away.

Instead the Socceroos (16) ranked 19 places higher than their Irish (37) counterparts played all over the home team save for when Tottenham striker Robbie Keane had a shot saved in the first half and one blocked in the second .

For most of the match the Irish sat deep and allowed the Socceroos to move the ball comfortably with Turkish based midfield enforcer Mile Jedinak and Dynamo Moscow man Luke Wilkshire feeding quality balls to Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Mark Bresciano. The fullbacks Rhys Williams and David Carney played well nullifying the Irish attack while also surging forward on occasion.

Williams who plays with Middlesbrough has played two quality games at right back and his emergence now gives the Socceroos depth in that position.

Luke Wilkshire produced a great performance in midfield. The versatile 27 year old has played primarily in the middle of the park for FC Twente and Dynamo Moscow and gives the Socceroos more depth in a talented midfield.

After the game Ireland boss Giovanni Trappatonni conceded his team played badly: "It was a severe lesson for us, I am a little bit disappointed with the team," the 70-year-old Italian said.

One of the negatives was Brett Holman. It can be a sobering experience watching the AZ Alkmaar midfielder in action, akin to getting hit in the face with a wet fish. While Holman played the second half fan favourite Nicky Carle only came on for the last 12 minutes. Debutant Nikita Rukavytsya had some exciting moments down the left and will be hungry for more game time.

With World Cup places up for grabs a performance like this will put pressure on the players who were absent, and that can only be a good thing with South Africa closing in on the horizon.

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