Article first published in Goal Weekly)
South Korea 3 - 1 Socceroos
There are a couple of things you can take out from the Socceroos 3-1 friendly loss to South Korea. The first point is whatever you think of the FIFA rankings system, they don’t mean anything except being a number when the players finally step on the field and start kicking a ball. Also Australia lacks depth in defence.
None of these insights are recent discoveries. With everyone creaming their pants over the Socceroos highest ever FIFA ranking of 14th include moi it’s not such a stupid thing to go all Paul Keating and say……. “This was the defeat the Socceroos had to have”.
Imagine if the Socceroos won every friendly game leading up to the World Cup and unlikely as it may be, gone close to sneaking into to the top 10……… it would have been the worst possible thing. No one wants to peak early ask your lady friend. It’s what happens at the World Cup that counts. While I don’t discard the joy at being ranked close to some of football’s elite, football is not Tennis. The World Game has one grand slam event……….. and it’s every four years.
The A League duo of Jason Culina and Shane Steffanutto combined well to set up South Korea’s first goal after less than five minutes. A poor pass by the Gold Coast United Captain his own half was kept in by Steaffantuto. However that allowed the Chung Yong to run on to the saved attempt and he motored down the right. One pass later Mark Schwarzer was on his back and Australia was 1-0 down Park Ju Yong the scorer.
The second goal was scored from a free kick that Fury left back Stefannutto gave away deep in his own half. By the time the free kick was lobbed at the far post the Aussies were too late and the half asleep defence allowed Jung Soo to flick in a goal that Josh Kennedy just failed to clear off his line. The Socceroos were down 2-0 after less than 20 minutes and both goals came from silly defensive mistakes. No doubt that would have made Verbeek furious at half time.
If you watch the reply there are three South Koreans free in the box by the time the ball is delivered back into the penalty box from an unmarked Kim Jung – Woo who was lurking free at the back post. Patrick Kisnorbo where were you? At the 2006 World Cup in Germany 52% of goals were scored by set pieces.
Kisnorbo made up for his earlier defensive mishap by scoring a header to make the score 2-1. Mark Bresciano the man who plays for Palermo produced a great cross from a free kick to set up the goal.
The second half was a much better performance but Australia coped a late goal in the 86h minute that Schwarzer appeared to save at first glance. The substitutive Striker for Korea headed the goal after Manchester United midfielder Park ran 55 metres and delivered the perfect cross.
So again the Socceroos depth is questioned. To be fair with a host of experienced names like Kewell, Carney, Emerton, Wilkshire, Neill, Valeri, Moore, Chipperfield, Garcia and Viduka did not play. The high of reaching a FIFA ranking of 14 did not last very long. It’s back to reality for the Socceroos, Pim Verbeek and his charges still have work to do. Let s hope it’s a better performance by the Aussies when they take on Holland and Oman in October.