Tuesday 28 March 2017

Socceroos break their drought!


Quick thoughts: Although we didn't seem to create too much from open chances, we are back to winning ways through 2 headers off corners. A win is a win and I'm not complaining! :) Let's stick to our strengths.

Troisi, Irvine, Milligan and Sainsbury were quite good as well.

Leckie has scored 2 goals in 2 matches, both off set pieces in similar positions.

This is a great start that has tipped the momentum back into our favour.

However the journey ahead is still fraught with a lot of danger! We still have a lot of room for improvement as well.

So, for example, a thought just occurred to me:

If Saudi Arabia win all their games except our game, then on the final day they will be on 19 points (2 wins) with 1 game left to play against Japan.

They look to have a superior goal difference to us.

Even if we win 2 home games and draw with Japan, we will sit on 20 [Big IFs I know]

If Japan and Saudi Arabia were to collude on a draw with each other on the last match day, Saudi Arabia would scrape through at our expense on goal difference....

So we would rely on the Blue Samurai beating the Saudis..

Given our history with our arch rivals though, would they do that for us?!!

Of course this all changes if Australia:

  • score a lot against Thailand; 
  • win 2-0 or more against Saudi Arabia;
  • Saudi Arabia or Japan slip up in other matches;
  • we beat Japan away.

(provided we win all our home games)

I am not celebrating so soon, we'll have to wait for 8 June first!

Andre Lim

PS I was in great company too, so it was a lovely night :)

Friday 24 March 2017

Socceroos in strife

[This is, in a sense, an indirect attempt to explain why I like following the Socceroos. Let's see how I go...]

Managing a soccer/football team during a World Cup Qualification campaign is pretty much almost (but not quitelike:

  1. Being the CEO of a company competing in a tight, perhaps oligopolistic, market;
  2. Looking after a family of 2+ children; and
  3. Leading a group of stranded people through a tough place, like a desert.
How is that possible? All 3 of these situations seem quite different.

In a very general sense, all scenarios above involve carefully managing people in the best possible way, in the most 'strategic' way possible to get the best 'possible outcome'. Of course, what constitutes the best 'possible outcome' and the challenges involved differ in each scenario.

In Scenario 1, the CEO has to ensure that his or her senior staff are working on projects that match their expertise and skills to maximise company profitability and efficiency. 

The right people need to be appointed to ensure the company is being steered in the correct direction, in line with the CEO's vision of the company. 

Do we want to compete based on quality? Are we going to be aggressive in the way we capture market share? Will we compromise in certain areas in order to be more time and cost-efficient in others?

At the highest levels, people management is involved. 

For example, there is no point placing your most talented on a task they are no good at, completely at odds with their strengths or weaknesses; doing so would be commercial suicide. Every such mistake would cause the company as a whole to be at a disadvantage to a rival.

As for Scenario 2, parents usually have short, medium and long-term visions of where their kids ought to be. 

Not all kids are the same; every child has different interests, passions, personalities, strengths and fears. 

Children develop at different rates and experience life differently. Some learn VERY differently too. Accordingly it would be wrong to think that all children should be raised in the same way

As parents you have milestones, or 'checkpoints' that you would be aiming for in each child's life..and how you get there for each of them is likely to be different! 

You may have a general overarching parenting philosophy that you apply to all of them..but you'd probably have different/specific parenting techniques for each of their circumstances. 

Scenario 3 is all about survival. Everyone would probably be allocated a task. 

There is someone to scout for water; someone to hunt for food; another leads or navigates; someone to fight predators; some probably have to do two or more things..or even everything. 

But the tasks are allocated based on the different skillsets of each person and perhaps the current situation/danger faced by the group. The group can only move forward if everyone is properly functioning, working together as a team and everyone is given a task they are capable of performing. You are only as strong as the weakest on your team.


I suggest that managing a team during World Cup Qualification is no different.

The campaign is spread over a few years. There is considerable planning involved. Personnel available to you changes, depending on injuries and who is in form or not.

Every opponent is different, every away trip is a new challenge, and new strategies must be used in each game. 

The long term aim is qualification. There can be no other goal.


The Socceroos are in a bit of a predicament now. They are very much in a transition phase.

Our head coach, Ange Postecoglou, has on many many occasions emphasised, through words and actions, that he would like to transform Australia into a free-flowing attacking football side that likes to maintain possession and pass their way into goals. 

This worked well on our home turf at the Asian Cup 2015.

However it seems like other teams have woken up to our tactics. Or maybe the tactic isn't working when we travel to faraway places like Iran.

The Socceroos have now drawn their last 4 matches in a row, and won half that number, which has left us in dire straits. Unfortunately, draws rarely get a team anywhere (See New Zealand at the 2010 World Cup, but also see Portugal at Euro 2016 - note the latter only did well because the tournament format had changed.)

However, what has frustrated fans most is Postecoglou's refusal to change the style imposed on the team and to continue doing the same thing even when it isn't working -- and when he does not have the personnel to do so (our team has not improved much, many lack match practice - but perhaps it's more that the method has not been working recently).

Others have expressed this better than I ever will - see for example comment by Ewen Page at this link (although I will quickly disclaim here that I don't agree with everything he says and the tone he uses, but I agree with the gist of it).

On one hand, playing attractive football like the European or South American nations do is a nice romantic ideal to have. It's a good long-term aim.

But if our personnel..currently lacks the skill and strengths to do so, it would be a disaster to try to mimic such a model of football.

The main priority is Australia need to qualify for the next World Cup because that is what inspires the next generation. 

This means that when we travel away to countries where the pitch is muddy, or the going is tough, we can't always play 'pretty attractive football' - sometimes you have to scrap for results even if it doesn't look pretty. I am not sure Postecoglou appreciates this. He has repeated on several occasions that he insists on imposing the same brand of football regardless of who his opponents are.

Ideals are nice, but every situation is different. Scrapping for a win is not disgraceful or undignified. It is all part of the strategy and, in many situations, it is completely warranted.

And this is where I attempt to tenuously link all of this to the three scenarios I have described above. Like all the scenarios above, the leader of a team must adjust their strategy based on the strengths of those under their wings. You don't impose a strategy that is out of their reach or completely unsuitable to the conditions. It's horses for courses.

I hope we can lift our game for the next 4 matches, because if we don't, we will not qualify for the next World Cup. The way we have played the last 4 matches certainly suggests that we are not up to standard.

This next match against the UAE..is a must-win.

The last time this happened..was probably when Australia had to play Oman and Iraq during the 2014 qualifying campaign?

That said, the team should take this as an opportunity to rise through adversity. After all, that is how real life is like and how we become stronger :) They need all our support and encouragement!!

Andre Lim

Thursday 23 March 2017

Quick predictions..for fun

Iraq 0 - 1 Australia, 76' Mooy
UAE 1 - 1 Japan (Khalil is injured)
Thailand 1 - 2 Saudi Arabia

Andre Lim

Tuesday 21 March 2017

WCQ 2018: Iraq in Iran

The Socceroos play Iraq ..in Tehran... on Thursday 11pm AEDT.

Although Iraq are sitting in 5th place in a 6-horse race, this shouldn't fool anyone - they have traditionally been tricky opponents over the years, and I highly doubt they will be walkovers this time either.

This comes at a critical juncture in the Socceroos' World Cup Qualification campaign.

The last result, a draw against Thailand, while not a disaster, has very much made this an uphill battle for the remaining 5 games of qualification.

These are our remaining fixtures:
  1. Iraq (Away) - 23.3.17
  2. UAE (Home) - 28.3.17
  3. Saudi Arabia (Home) - 8.6.17
  4. Japan (Away) - 31.8.17
  5. Thailand (Home) - 5.9.17
I personally think it will come down to us winning all 3 of our home matches against the UAE, the Saudis and Thailand. Those are must win games. I know a lot of you out there think so too. If we can do that, then the game against Japan is likely to be a 'bonus' match of sorts...but it all depends.

It is significantly better if we beat Iraq

A win is always ideal but the Socceroos, at the very least, must draw with Iraq.

A draw to Iraq is by no means safe (far from it!) because, amongst other things, it would arguably make us more dependent on Japan (or whoever is the dominant team in this group..if there is such a thing here) winning all their games.

For example, if the Saudis beat [the UAE, Iraq and Thailand] they would sit on 19 points and (assuming Japan also dominate the group) Japan may have to stop them.

In that case, assuming we won our home games, we would either need the draw against Japan too to pip the UAE to 20 points... or a better goal difference if we are stuck on 19.

That is too close for comfort. A win against Iraq is by far the safer bet.

A team in development - rebuilding

Much has been made of the Socceroos' lack of striking options. Most Australian fans would probably agree, as we tend to rely too much on Tim Cahill. Tomi Juric looks like he needs to step up; but really, we need everyone to chip in when it comes to goals. This takes a lot more experience, something the team will have to learn on the run. Although I haven't seen him play lately, I was glad to see Nathan Burns back in the squad as I seem to remember he played quite well in the Asian Cup.

It will also be interesting to see an in-form Mooy combine with a Robbie Kruse who has more match experience under his belt. Leckie has never been a finisher, but he is fast. I also wonder how Luongo and, later, Rogic (when he's back from injury) will fit into this equation. Regardless of who starts, hopefully all can supply Juric, and later, Cahill if he comes on as a late-ish sub (which seems very likely). A goal here and there from the midfield over these next 5 matches will, in all probability, be needed as well.

Importantly however, we need to learn how to...not..give the ball away sloppily. And how not to concede. We seem to be lacking the rigidity we used to have. This is what makes it all so interesting, because Postecoglou will be looking at injecting fresh and..inexperienced.. blood into this team (especially with the right-back position which seems to be a question mark at the moment).

But above all I do think qualification is the main priority here - there is no harm in playing younger players and/or a team with new faces at the World Cup, but we have to make it there first!

This group will be very tight.

We may need to go down third-place playoffs, but hopefully not.

Remember: Only top two automatically qualify. If we are not careful in these next two matches we may not qualify at all.

Andre Lim

Saturday 18 March 2017

Woke up

Sometimes it's pretty interesting how..something can change so quickly.

I had forgotten how much I missed playing badminton :)

Andre Lim

Saturday 4 March 2017

Foods I can't live without/ My favourite foods

This list is a work in progress.

In no particular order:

  1. Jelly (not agar-agar texture, but not too soft either. Eg. Aeroplane jelly; Chinese jelly with coconut or Easyway topping style jellies; herbal jelly)
  2. Soup - all sorts, Asian and Western
  3. Coffee/Green Tea ice cream
  4. (Lately) A really good mixed salad, especially if it has red onion and tomato LOL
  5. A hearty/spicy lamb or mutton curry

Undecided (including things I don't necessarily choose to eat all the time):
  1. Pizza
  2. Lamb
  3. General savoury snacks that are not packet chips
  4. KFC (hot and spicy)
  5. Red Rooster - Classic Roasts
  6. Fish and chips
  7. Sushi
  8. Smoked salmon
  9. Curry Twisties
  10. Apple cinnamon strudel
  11. Gravy/roast of the day
  12. Mixed kebab (doner, chicken and lamb)

Previous junk food guilty pleasures which I have significantly cut down on:
  1. Most fast food chain offerings (particularly McDonalds and Hungry Jacks - Quarter Pounders and Bacon Deluxes in particular)
  2. Packet chips - especially CC's Tasy Cheese, Red Rock Deli Honey Soy Chicken and Chilli Kettle chips (I particularly miss their Herb and Spice offering)
  3. Hot (deep-fried) chips
  4. Burgers
  5. Deep-fried things
  6. Lollies/starburst/jelly beans

Andre Lim