Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos are playing the type of football we want to see and growing in belief with each 2015 Asian Cup outing.
There is a long way to go and it is worth remembering we beat Uzbekistan by six in 2011, before losing in the final to Japan. Nevertheless the performance against Oman, which was never allowed to play, was excellent.
One thing shone through which is emerging as a major factor of this home Asian Cup and that is the greater intensity of play from Australia that the Gulf nations, in particular, cannot contend with.
This is where Ange and his coaching staff have read the scenario very well, understanding that Middle East teams play at a speed well below the A-League – becoming of their predominantly hot climate – and struggle when pressed and made to play at a higher speed for the full duration of a match.
Faster thought, faster execution for 90 minutes was a challenge beyond both Kuwait and Oman.
Australia sought to restart play as quickly as possible, to minimise the ball being out of play and to monopolise the ball wherever possible so that, by the second half, the opponents were spent.
Therefore, it was the Socceroos’ work without the ball that was fundamental to the result.
The opening goal was a very well-planned set piece, pulling Omani defenders away from the far post and placing Matt McKay close to the line for the final touch, thereby avoiding having to beat Ali Al-Habsi with a header from an acute angle.
I noticed Postecoglou congratulating Aurelio Vidmar immediately after the goal, which indicates the auxiliary technical staff are contributing in aspects of the game as well.
Well done guys, these are the details that make a huge difference in international football.
With Korea Republic being pushed hard by Kuwait and Oman, there is now a significant decisive physical edge to the Aussies for game three.
Well done also to the Socceroos conditioning staff.
My impression of Korea has been that it is underdone physically, perhaps underestimating the tournament level, with players cramping late in game one and clearly tiring in game two.
This will be a huge factor in Brisbane, and a confidence builder for Australia to know it can push opponents physically right til the last minute.
What is most interesting is that the style of play of the Socceroos mirrors closely the components of play we now see regularly in the A-League, especially the immediate pressing of the ball. This shows that the domestic competition is evolving nicely in line with Australia’s physical and cultural strengths and preparing players for the next level.
From what I have seen, only Iran and Japan can play at this level. We will know a lot more about Korea in a few days’ time. What is clear is the gulf between Asia’s usual World Cup suspects and the rest.
So far, so good. The team system is working very well. The Socceroos have found it easier to break down Kuwait and Oman than the likes of Chile, Spain, Netherlands and Belgium, so the team is showing the confidence gained from playing at a higher level then stepping back to the Asian Cup group stage.
Ange has the team playing the type of football we want to see and growing in belief game by game.
Importantly, he has them the type of football the Australian public will resonate with and that will increase support for the tournament along the way.