Saturday, 3 September 2011

Australia 2-1 Thailand: Match Report Pt 2

There were ironic parallels with Australia's famous 6-0 semi-final thrashing of Uzbekistan; ironic because Australia committed many of the fatal mistakes Uzbekistan did.
Australia and Uzbekistan were similarly defensively na├»ve – both teams played their most creative individual out of position; Akmehdov at CB, McKay at LB - where they were shackled and exposed by their defensive responsibilities.
Like Uzbekistan, our passing was slow, sloppy and unimaginative; often long passes were played from flank to flank with no real intent to open our opponent's defence.
And in the semi-final, Australia scored by playing deep and looking to counter-attack, just as Thailand intended to last night.

Most ironically of all, Holger was essentially “out-Holgered”. When Osieck resumed managerial responsibility for Australia, he prioritised a rigid defence (by playing with a relatively conservative double pivot) and conceded possession, looking to counter-attack. It's only with time that Holger has sought to implement a positive, possession based approach. Schaffer, having just recently assumed control of Thailand, has returned the favour. The difference between the two cases is the disparity in professionalism and ability. Australia were able to score 6 goals against Uzbekistan because, simply put, they were the better players. Here, Thailand made only one serious foray into our defensive half, and which was handsomely rewarded.
Osieck's selection errors manifested in an unbalanced Australian side. Holman drifted into the centre, and even McKay, a left-sided player, drifted centrally. Therefore, Australia's main route of attack was the right flank, and they were shockingly undermanned on the left.
Most disappointingly, Australia's main method of attack was lofted, high crosses from deep, looking for a knock-down from Cahill and Kennedy, two attackers dominant in the air. Dependence on the right flank can be illustrated by the fact that there were nearly 30 crosses from that side; close to 20 alone were delivered by Wilkshire, and yet there were less than half-a-dozen deliveries from the left; half of these came from McKay, two of which resulted in goals and the other half were cutbacks, delivered by a right boot from Holman, when the better option would have been a low, hard ball across goal, where Kennedy and Cahill were running toward.

PM found it very strange that McKay was played at LB, especially as Holger has previously invested such trust in him. During the Asian Cup, Holger made the controversial decision to opt for McKay on the left of mid-field over Emerton on the right because he identified the balance McKay, as a left-sided player, brought to the side, and also how McKay's awareness allowed him to provide adequate defensive cover for Carney's raids down the left flank and how his passing linked the mid-field with Kewell.

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