Tuesday, June 20, 2006

COMMENT: Reputations count for nothing as Socceroos level out FIFA's playing field

Soccer news.
There's a football advert doing the rounds in Australia starring Socceroos Marco Bresciano and John Aloisi.

While the pair train in an empty stadium, they are barracked by a lone voice yelling from the stands.

"How do you think you are going to beat Brazil, Socceroos," the geriatric figure baits. "You haven't even kicked a goal in the World Cup."

"Brazil have kicked 191 goals," the old-timer ridicules with a laugh.

"Here Johnny," Bresciano prompts and from Aloisi's pass, the Parma midfielder thrashes the ball into the stands and knocks the groaning figure out cold.

"History's Against Us," reads the tagline. "Stuff History."

Whether Nike are claiming any credit following last night's display against the reigning world champions will likely be determined by the company's next ad campaign.

But one thing's for certain - reputations count for nothing for Guus Hiddink's men.

Reputations count for nothing.
The simple truth is Brazil might have lost to 42nd-ranked Australia after Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka wasted glorious chances in the second-half in Munich.

The former Leeds United pair will relive their individual moments of promise a hundred times over.

Once again, a World Cup match was decided by mere inches.

While Viduka's second-half lob over goalkeeper Dida landed fractionally over the bar, Robinho's 90th minute strike ricocheted off the inside of Mark Schwarzer's post straight to the feet of grateful striker Fred.

"It was a deserved win," coach Carlos Alberto Parreira maintained after presiding over an anxious second-half performance from the five-times champions. "We imposed both our style of playing, passing the ball around, and also imposed ourselves physically."

Australian central defender Lucas Neill saw it rather differently.

"We’re really frustrated and disappointed," Neill, a player growing in stature with each passing international, said. "But we played very well and I’m really happy to be a part of this Australian team."

Neill's proud Socceroos concocted about as many shots as their lauded rivals in a pulsating encounter but will rue a lack of tactical nous from midfielder-turned-defender Scott Chipperfield four minutes after the break.

The FC Basel man, forced back into defence following injury to Tony Popovic, stood too far off Adriano as the burly left-footer shaped to thread a shot goalbound after a neat set-up from Ronaldo.

The result was too much time for the Inter Milan striker and too little view for Schwarzer - a deadly combination.

The ball rolled through Chipperfield's vulnerable gait and eluded the stranded Middlesbrough 'keeper for the gamebreaker.

Fred's last-gasp decider only served to flatter the Brazilians, a side talked about in terms of Pele's 1970s superstars pre-tournament but on current form a million miles away.

For the Aussies, they might have fallen narrowly short of South America's football kings but can take satisfaction that a draw with Croatia on Friday should be enough for a knockout spot.

Copyright © Marc Fox and Soccerphile.com

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