Sunday 1 February 2015

What a night, what a game.

Just came back from the match (not too long ago).

It's certainly a night I won't forget.

Here's a few thoughts...

[I know I have digressed from games over the past month, my main concern, but this will be my last post on this subject for a while]

I honestly thought Australia were going to lose

When South Korea equalised at the last-gasp, there was this sudden fear and dread that overcame me and from thereon in I thought Australia might be fated to lose. Because of these three reasons:

1) We had so many yellow cards, at least 5 by my count. One more mistake from one of these players and we would put South Korea in the driving seat;
2) Our 'recognised' 'forwards', Cahill and Kruse, had been substituted.
3) Now South Korea had all the momentum going into extra time, with Australian spirits deflated after conceding like that - all their efforts over 45 minutes to defend the lead gone down the drain.

How wrong I was - we defended and played better in extra time, thus nullifying factors 1 and 3; and the younger generation stepped up, throughout the whole match, thus nullifying Fear #2.

Credit: SMH
The New Generation Stepped Up, Surprisingly

That Tomi Juric assist to give Australia the win was absolutely mind-blowing. Firstly, how on earth did the whistle not blow (for either team) after he fell over multiple times; and secondly, how the heck did Juric get it past that lone defender on the edge of the goal line?!

What a "Never say die" moment!!

I have this distinct image of the Korean goalkeeper coming out of the box, hands extended, palming Juric's shot to the left (from my point of view in the stands). Some yellow shirt comes in and finishes it off - James Troisi of all people. The crowd goes nuts.

And what about Mass Luongo's goal in normal time; that was something totally unexpected. A few touches and bang, into the goal against the run of play. Strangely, and somewhat paradoxically, that goal almost seemed like it was of a class that neither team possessed nor deserved to have in their favour. It simply didn't belong in this match.

As a general comment, I am quite impressed with Trent Sainsbury and Massimo Luongo, both finds of this tournament. Sainsbury seems to be an all-rounded defender, who can go forward when required and defend well too.

South Korea - 'should have won'?

The South Koreans appeared to have had more chances than Australia and couldn't convert.

Many people will say (and many have always used this expression quite frequently:) "the better team lost today".

I say there is no such thing and that phrase is a total nonsense. The better team is the team that won, barring the scenarios where the referee made bad decisions or there is some illegal activity going on.

Shots on goal, completed passes and possession (even possession in the penalty box) can only get you so far but the team has to make them count - merely having a high percentage of those vital stats (or any other important ones) does NOT make you the 'better' team. Winning, fairly and squarely, even with less opportunities and shots on goal, makes you the better team.

What is a more accurate statement, however, is this: the losing team had the better build-up play and opportunities created, BUT they lacked the quality to finish those chances off. Having a player who can score goals is the difference between 'the better team' and the 'team that could have won'.

Now, interestingly, despite all I have said above with respect to this notion of 'the better team', and this is going to sound contradictory, but Australia really were lucky today. Perhaps, sometimes, luck can be mistaken for fate?

How big was this win?

Arguably it's the Socceroos' biggest ever moment in their 90 year-odd history: the argument being that this is their first major trophy ever (courtesy Mark Bosnich).

True that, but for some reason, qualifying for the World Cup 2006 after not participating at the world's best tournament for many decades - that John Aloisi penalty - still seems higher up than this occasion.

Nonetheless, I leave it at that for the time being. I will not quibble with anyone who thinks this is one of Australia's top 2 or 3 moments in football history. Give me a bit of time and maybe I'll agree that this was the best moment in Australia's history.

Kudos and Massive respect to Korea

I'm still buzzing with excitement. I can't shake it off.

The atmosphere was electric. From the Aussie fans, yes, as expected. BUT the 20,000+ (?) South Korean fans were just as loud as we were (in bursts, when required). Scary stuff.

Truthfully, I feel sorry for South Korea.

If Australia get knocked out in the next Asian Cup 2019 (ie. If we haven't been kicked out of the Asian Football Confederation by the complaining Gulf nations by then - but apparently this is a falsehood given that the AFC President denied the existence of such complaints, and seeing as we have abided by all the rules and you need a resolution by majority of at least 75% to get kicked out), I do hope South Korea can end their trophy drought. I made a lot of South Korean friends when I went to an American international school in China during my primary school days, so I do have a soft spot for them, and their food.

I am appalled by my lack of pictures in this post, but it is late and I value my sleep more. I may add them in retrospectively.

Good night.

Andre Lim

PS. Socceroos win the Asian Cup 2015, 2-1 a.e.t. over South Korea!!! Can you believe it?!

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