Friday, 7 October 2011

Australia 4-0 Malaysia HT Impressions

Simply woeful. What else can be said? Malaysia could not pass, they could not tackle; they couldn't even get close to the Australian players. Malaysia managed the frankly near-impossible task of standing firmly off the Socceroos, while running around like headless chooks - no mean feat indeed. Some defenders seemed to be under the impression they were using an offside trap, while the others were too busy ball-watching to care.

Frequently, Malaysian players dribbled the ball into touch; one even tried to pull a 'Gareth Bale' on Rhys Williams. I felt sorry for Malaysia; the FFA asked for a training match, and the opposition might as well have been traffic cones. If there are any FIFA 12 enthusiasts out there; remember the new tactical defending feature? Hold X, and you're defender harmlessly shadows the ball possesser, press Circle to tackle. Well Malaysia lost their circle button; it was missing in action. The usually lumbering Kennedy was made to look like Andreas Iniesta, jinking and swerving around the Malay defenders.

So perhaps it's better to focus on our own performance. Admittedly its' very hard to judge which Socceroos actually played well, and which were sleep walking through the match.

We scored 4 goals so let's start there. The Malay left winger simply let Williams go free for the first; the ball was slipped to him, lovely cut-back to Wilkshire. Kennedy's first was just a case of leisurely one-touch football in the box. Brosque's was a generous lay-off from the Australian No 9. Kennedy's 2nd was latching onto a low cross in the box. Every goal was a result of elementary defensive mistakes by the Malays. Like not tackling.

There are some positives to be had; Federici, Williams and Brosque were given starts. Federici had more or less nothing to do. Williams exloited the space left in front of him really well. Brosque showed his ability in link-up play, and finishing skill.

But I think Neill and Kilkenny were the best Australian performers in the half. Some of the other players relaxed after the 1st goal; they allowed themselves to play poorly. But Neill and Kilkenny were always intent on attacking, played some lovely long range passes, and were frequently relied upon to keep possession. Kilkenny in particular showcased his quality for Australia, as a superb passing midfielder; this is how he is different from McKay - McKay's game is all about intelligent movement, rapid short-passing and positional interchange, but Kilkenny prefers to hit long-range cross-field passes, like an Aussie Xabi Alono or Charlie Adam. As PM predicted, a fluid midfield trio of Valeri, Kilkenny and McKay was extremely dynamic and penetrative.

PM also has to applaud Osieck's selection. Using Wilkshire on the right was a piece of genius man management; allowing him to appropriately shield Williams at right back. In any case, Emerton/Wilkshire on the right is just a doubling up of fullbacks in the first place, so it was an extremely perceptive decision by Holger. Equally intelligent was using Brosque behind the striker. PM predicted Brosque would be inverted on the right, to accomodate Holman in the middle. But Osieck showed faith in Brosque and was duly rewarded with a composed performance. Before Osieck's assumption of managerial duties, Australia looked decidely thin of left footers. Well tonight, Zullo, Brosque, McKay and Kilkenny combined fabulously, drawing Malaysia in on the left, before switching play to Wilkshire or Williams.

This performance is the template of how we're going to go about beating South Korea and Japan.

It's unlikely there will be a full match analysis afterwards, given the nature of the half-time scoreline and training dummy performance by Malaysia.

HT Player Rankings:
Out-field players ranked from 10-1, GK inserted.
10) Ognenovski, Federici - not much to do, should have had a tea party
9) Valeri - really enjoyed playing in front of his home-town, tried so hard to score
8) Wilkshire - scored
7) Williams - exploited space well
6) Zullo - overlapped well
5) Brosque - very mobile, dropping deep and linking play, scoring
4) McKay - we're now accustommed to McKay starring in the Green and Gold so it's strange to see him have an 'average' game; he linked well, especially with the overlapping Zullo
3) Kennedy - Malaysia made him look like Ronaldo, but still he linked well, moved intelligently, and scored a brace
2) Neill - reminded Australia exactly why he remains vital to the Socceroos with intelligent distribution
1) Kilkenny - showcased superb passing range, coupled with a new attacking intent

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