Saturday, 3 September 2011

Australia 2-1 Thailand: Match Report Pt 3

Match Events:

15’ Dangda
Thailand’s goal was the result of sloppy play by Australia, mostly as a result of the flaw’s in Australia’s system.

Kilkenny received the ball from McKay, who simultaneously with Valeri, looked to run into the box. With Wilkshire advanced on the right, the only Aussies behind Kilkenny were Spiranovic and Neill. Kilkenny under-hit a pass, which was easily seized by a Thai CB. McKay, instead of tracking the full-back, drifted centrally near Valeri. Spiranovic was dragged out of position, looking to meet the attack. The Thai full-back overlapped on our left flank, picked out Dangda in the box and unleashed a curling cross, which was put away crisply. By this time, Valeri, Kilkenny and Wilkshire were back in our defensive half BUT were behind the ball, leaving Neill as the only defender in position.

Kilkenny was culpable for surrendering possession with a mis-hit pass, Valeri was culpable for bursting into a box already crowded with Australian attackers (Holman, Emerton, Cahill and Kennedy) instead of coming short and offering a passing option and defensive cover, McKay was culpable for being out of position high-up on the left and not marking the Thai full-back.

Remedy – McKay should not have been playing at LB; while he is able at tackling and pressing, his natural inclination is to drift centrally and create. He also lacks the pace to beat his marker, which an attacking full-back requires. Holman doesn’t contribute defensively in the traditional sense. He drifted right, playing as a central or right sided forward. That isn’t to say Holman doesn’t contribute; much of his defensive work is pre-emptive, by attempting to overload the defence and intercepting passes.

58’ Kennedy
This goal was created almost exclusively by McKay, who demonstrated how crucial his creative passing is to the Socceroos attack. Kennedy also demonstrated an under-rated aspect of his repertoire; lethality with his feet rather than his head. Ironically, in a game in which 99% of his touches in the box came from his head, he managed to instinctively score on the one chance that fell to his feet.  
McKay received the ball in an attacking position on the left, laid the ball off to Kilkenny, then made a run in behind his marker. Kilkenny split the Thai RB and CB with a pass that McKay ran onto. McKay elected to shoot one-on-one with the GK, the rebound fell fortuitously to Kennedy who scored.

As an aside, PM found it interesting that McKay, who laid on 3 assists in the Uzbekistan rout, kicked the ball into the net instead of celebrating with the team when Ognenovski scored. McKay also missed a golden chance when one-on-one with the GK in the Asian Cup Final inside 5 minutes. Before he took the shot, Kennedy was more or less free in the box, but McKay chose to shoot, instead of pass.

86’ Brosque
Again, this goal was more or less created alone by McKay. He received the ball from Kilkenny, in a good crossing position on the left. This was a rare counter-attack by Australia, launched from mid-field. Kennedy and Brosque were only being marked by the two Thai CBs. McKay’s cross missed Brosque’s header (ironically he jumped higher than bean-pole Kennedy), but was knocked down by Kennedy. The ball fell to Brosque, and also demonstrated his lethal left foot.

Holger made attempts to correct his selection mistakes, substituting a very static Cahill for Kruse and an ineffective Emerton for Brosque. In a game where close to 30 crosses arrived from the right flank, Emerton playing at RM, made less than 5, and offered no penetration. These substitutions came very late in the game. However, Holger did not correct his most conspicuous error; playing McKay out of position at LB.

Remedy – PM would have favoured substituting a muted Emerton for either another defender or another left-sided player. Holman was marginally more effective and would have been able to play in his preferred right-sided position and usual free role without unbalancing the team. Exchanging an attacker for a defender might seem like a negative tactic; on the contrary. Bringing on Zullo, a nominal LB but really a converted winger, or Ognenovski to partner Neill and pushing Spiranovic out, comfortable on the flank, would have given balance to the side and allowed Australia to spread the attacking area. Crucially, it would have freed McKay to influence Australia’s passing without overexposing his defensive deficiency.
Holger failed to address a similar substitution made by Japan in the Asian Cup Final. Japan brought on a 3rd defender to deal with the dual aerial threat offered by Cahill and Kewell which allowed Nagatoma free reign down our right flank. This directly led to Japan’s winning goal, which came from a Nagatoma cross after he had beat Wilkshire.

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