You are here

Asian Cup Wrap

Now that the tournament is over, it's time to reflect on Australia's performance. Our ledger was the same as the World Cup, ie. one win, one draw and one loss in the group stage, second in our group and a narrow loss in the first knockout stage. However, few supporters would rate the performance as anywhere as good.

The establish players did little to enhance their reputations. Schwarzer let in a clanger against Iraq, while Neill had a brain explosion in the same match. Grella, Bresciano, Aloisi, Emerton, Culina and Wilkshire had poor tournaments overall. It could be a while before Kisnorbo and Holman play for the Socceroos again. Viduka finally scored some goals and in key matches, but was subbed off against Japan. Kewell didn't do much, but wasn't fully fit and at least appeared to be trying hard. Cahill did a good job as a super-sub and the A-League boys, Carney, Milligan and Beauchamp played well.

Graham Arnold didn't do much to enhance his reputation. He can point to difficult conditions and some lack of motivation from his players, but his team selection and strategy were poor. He was clearly outpointed by opposition coaches. The FFA will continue its search for a big-name coach in earnest.

The conditions were no doubt very trying. Playing football (indeed any sport) in such heat and humidity is very difficult. But all teams are affected by this and Australia failed to adapt. It was noticeable that our only win was in a late game when conditions had cooled.

Arnold said a semi-final spot was the minimum expected, so we clearly failed to deliver on that count. Many thought we could win in our first attempt, but were probably disabused of that notion after our first two games. All-in-all it was a bit of a disappointment after the hype.

Looking ahead, the key thing is did we learn anything. Our World Cup qualification path is now through Asia. We will have to play against these teams in these conditions (at least for the away legs) and do well. How we manage our preparation in future will have to improve. Qualifying for the next World Cup is definitely not a given - although, to be fair, I don't think we believed it would be - we just hoped it would be less random that the previous lottery.