Iraq vs Australia - Post Match
Iraq 1 (Emad 28)
My inner arrogance says that a 1-0 loss to a 'backwards' country like Iraq is a woeful result. When I slap myself and wake up to the fact the game was played in poor conditions, in the desert and against the current Asian Champions who had to win or be knocked out, I don't feel as bad. We just have to remember that we were playing against the Asian Champions, away from home, conceded an amazing/flukey goal which was created from nothing. We are also still on top of our group and now means that a win in our next match will see us through to the next round. We are doing ok!...
However, in my opinion the game could/should/would/might have been approached in a different way. I really don't think that we needed to play as negatively as we did. Last week in Brisbane against our only real weakness was at the back. We played a back four with two relatively young and inexperienced centre halves with two converted midfielders as fullbacks. The two in the middle got caught out a bit and Pim's explination was that the fullbacks pushed on too much (in a home qualifier...) and didn't provide enough cover. So to combat this perceived weakness Pim decided to change to a back 3 with wingbacks. Both Emerton and Carney's strengths are in their ability to go forward and beat their man. Against Iraq on Sunday they were obviously also told not to venture forward at all. In this system and for 2 obviously talented attacking players this was poor to see. Yes I like taking a cautious approach to away games but the question is just how cautious should we be?
My main gripe is with the change to a back three system with Coyne, a 29 year old playing in the 3rd tier of English football shoved into the middle with Pim's explanation "to add leadership". Just seems negative and unorganised to me. I would have much rather see faith be invested in North and Beauchamp.
Then in front of the defenders, which was effectively a five man backline with Carney and Emerton withdrawn, we play two defensive midfielders in Grella and Valeri. Was this really necessary? Moving further up the park we come to Culina and Wilkshire as our 'attackin outlets'. Both are solid players but I wouldn't exactly call either creative... We do however have all the creativity in the world on the Bench with Bresciano and Carle but fail to use them. Again cautious is ok but over the top?
Finally our one attacking outlet, the lone striker who had balls bombed up to him from both deep and wide positions was Harry Kewell, not really his best traditional position. I can't give Harry enough admiration lately and he made the best of circumstances that definitely weren't ideal to put in another fairly solid performance. I would however much rather see him facing goal playing just off Mcdonald or Kennedy. Pim however could not afford to play an injured Kennedy for 90 mins and McDonald is not entirely suited to a lone striking role either. Hard I know. He did however have youngster Djite on the bench who is looking more and more like a successor to Viduka (Big call I know...). His performance off the bench in Brisbane I thought could have easily earned him a start here. This could have allowed Kewell to drop back into the hole maybe for one of the screening midfielders.
Holman did enter this hole off the bench in the second half for Grella. I am not a fan of Holman at all and just can't see what our national managers continue to see in him. Having someone in this hole created chances that where duely wasted. Bresc or Carle would surely have been a better choice at this time. Maybe there is something we don't know about these two players. Injures, poor training performances, poor handling of the conditions who knows.
So all up after Holman filled the gap and eventually Kennedy coming on to fill Kewell's position we really started to create. I just think we should/could/might/didn't have played the same as in Brisbane with 4-4-2 and actually attacked. That's when we look good. sure play an extra DM, tell the fullbacks they cant push forward as much but what happened was just shit and we paid for it duely with a fluke goal from a misguided cross. Please Pim go back to the general tactics used in Brisbane for the Qatar game! Something like:
Maybe Wilkshire for Culina, that's Pim's job but please be a little less negative.
Next week’s matches will prove pivotal, with a win by either Australia or Qatar ensuring their qualification, while either Iraq or China will drop out of contention, when they meet in Tianjin. I'm worried...