Farina's Forum - May 2004
Nine times out of ten, the final score in a soccer match is a pretty true reflection of how the game panned out. Unfortunately for the Socceroos, Monday night was one time the result did not give a true reflection of what happened in the match.
Nine times out of ten, the final score in a soccer match is a pretty true reflection of how the game panned out. Unfortunately for the Socceroos, Monday night was one time the result did not give a true reflection of what happened in the match. Call it an injustice or perhaps plain bad luck, but at the end of the day, the result was not the important thing for me, it was the performance itself. Don-t get me wrong, I am as disappointed as the next person that we did not at least get a draw, which we fully deserved, but that is football and we are not the first and won-t be the last team to suffer the same fate. Lets also remember the two games against Turkey were friendlies and I would much rather get the bad results out of the way now rather then next Saturday (Australia v New Zealand) when results do matter. Some will bemoan the fact that Australia lost the two matches against Turkey at home, but we should remember that Turkey is ranked number seven nation in the world (Australia is ranked 89) and they did finish third at the last World Cup, which was less then two years ago. They have humbled more highly ranked teams than us in the past and it is a shame they will not be at EURO 2004, as I am sure they would go close to winning it. I-m am sure they would have felt the same way, as we did on Monday night, when they were knocked off by Latvia in the EURO 2004 play-off, having dominated the second leg, only to concede two late goals that saw their hopes of qualifying for the finals disappear. The only difference being they had a lot more to lose then we did on Monday night. However their absence from EURO 2004 was to our gain and while the history books will show we lost both games, they have proven to be an invaluable exercise for the players and myself. The most encouraging thing from my perspective was how the players responded to the negative comments from the first game performance, to show what they are really capable of in the second game. For me this is a great sign of maturity and will stand these players in good stead for the future. In the Sydney match we felt we needed to try something a little different, which unfortunately didn-t come off. However a lot of this can also be put down to the fact that Turkey had close to their full strength team on the park and they certainly made the most of it. In the end we deserved to be a goal down at the break, although it must be said, the way they got the goal was rather fortuitous. When we reverted back to our normal system of playing two strikers up front for the second half, the side instantly looked more settled and I felt we had the better of Turkey and deserved to be level with them. However two mistakes against a side like Turkey is bound to hurt you and that they did. Overall based on a full 90 minutes, you would have to say Turkey deserved to win. Of the players, Max Vieri (pictured left) certainly put his hand up with a superb second half performance in his debut for his adopted country and left me with little choice but to start with him in the second game. Monday night-s game saw Turkey try a new combination and rest several key players, but in the context of things, we were already without five first team regulars and at least another three or four regular squad members, so that argument doesn-t wash with me. Right from the outset last night, the players were very positive, defended further up the field and put a lot of pressure on the Turkish defence, which I thought looked vulnerable. We did lack that final killer ball at times, but the fact we were getting into attacking positions, especially down the flanks, was a good sign. Turkey-s keeper Rustu made several telling stops to deny us a deserved goal and what can say about the goal they scored. Kahveci-s strike was top shelf and the only disappointing thing was that we gave away the free kick in such a dangerous position. The second half was more of the same for us and again we were unlucky not to get a deserved goal, especially with the chances that we created. If you look at the chances created by both teams, I thought most of ours came from general play, while Turkey-s best opportunities were from set pieces. Overall the two games have been a very valuable exercise and a step in the right direction heading into the all important Oceania Nations Cup/World Cup qualifiers that start in Adelaide next Saturday. Heading into the match against New Zealand, I can be quietly confident of getting a positive result, as I believe we can only improve on the two games against Turkey. We will also have the addition of several more players with John Aloisi, Paul Agostino and Tim Cahill due to come into the squad this week. All three players will give us extra potency in attack and put pressure on the likes of Vieri and David Zdrilic whom did very well in the Turkey games. Over the course of the next week, we will face five very intense games against teams that would like nothing better than to beat us. The good thing for me is knowing we have the depth that will make us competitive in every game, which will be essential if we are to progress to the play-off later in the year. Every one of the 22 players will play a vital role during the tournament and I have every faith in them to get the job done.