Sunday 25 June 2017

Confeds Cup: Thoughts

In light of the results against Germany and Cameroon, and a recent article written by Craig Foster, it's true that the Confederations Cup is a great 'match-experience' opportunity for the Socceroos. If we are to measure ourselves against the very best, it makes sense that we treat the Confederations Cup (which is really just a series of tournament-style friendlies) somewhat seriously. However not too seriously - we don't want any injuries.

I thought the Roos played much better against Cameroon but should have still lost, at least on paper - look at Aboubakar's spurned chances.

I also thought the scoreline against Germany flattered us a bit given our performance in the first half.

This match against Chile tomorrow at 1am will be interesting because it will be a true yardstick of sorts - we played Chile in 2014 and lost 3-1.

Since we are very much transitioning our style of play it will be interesting to see how we will fare. If we can lose by the same margin or less - at least scoring one goal - while maintaining our aggressive tactics, I think that should be treated as a success.

To qualify for the next stage, the Roos need to win by a 2 goal margin - this looks incredibly unlikely.

It is important in all of this to not lose sight of formations and all that jazz. I think it is vital to be flexible. In any sport, one does not always attack. Champions and champion teams choose the right moment to attack - when the opponent is vulnerable. A solid defence is critical to this. That said, it is true that more aggressive teams tend to win. The balance is probably 60-40 Attack or 70-30 Attack.

The Socceroos are in an interesting and exciting spot. On one hand, it is admirable that we want to replicate the attacking styles of other teams. Of course following that style will mean we concede more goals because we are not used to it, especially while in transition. On the other hand, if we do not have the personnel to play that attacking style, we need to be pragmatic and adapt our tactics to our personnel.

If there is a suggestion that qualification for the World Cup should be sacrificed to change our style, I would say we have lost the plot. I think our style needs to be changed over time but not to the extent that we miss out on the most important event in the football calendar - for it is there that our worth as a footballing nation is measured.

Andre Lim

Monday 19 June 2017

Confederations Cup 2017

The Socceroos are back on the international stage with their first match against a second/third string Germany in the Confederations Cup at 1am, early Tuesday morning.

Ange Postecoglou and the squad have come under considerable scrutiny in recent months as a result of the team's shaky performances and absence of defensive solidarity in recent World Cup Qualifiers.

While the victory against Saudi Arabia was an important stepping stone, the team's inability to secure a 2-goal margin due to its leaky defence could prove to be decisive, but we will have a better idea in late August.

Some of the specific problems that have been raised by Roos fans include:
  1. Postecoglou's experimentation with an unfamiliar back 3 system in critical must-win games - a formation that the players are arguably not comfortable with given the manner in which the team has conceded goals;
  2. The squad not having the right personnel or talent to adopt the system that Ange wants the Socceroos to play; and
  3. Australia's recent tendency of over-emphasising offence at the expense of sloppy ball control, and possession, coupled with a flimsy defence and cheap turnovers.
Of course, a bit of perspective is important.

An optimist might say that the Socceroos are undefeated, with their aim of qualification still firmly in their control. The optimist would also point to the fact that hiccups are inevitable, and necessary, if change is to come about.

Ange Postecoglou would almost certainly side with the optimist, as he has made it clear that the Socceroos need to be more ambitious than just qualifying for the World Cup. He has used this as an excuse of sorts to justify the teething problems mentioned above. This has resulted in him being quite scathing of the media and any questions directed towards his team and management.
A realist on the other hand might suggest that we have drawn far too many games -- this has made the qualification route more difficult than it should be. For example, a win instead of a draw against either Thailand or Iraq would have put the Socceroos in a rather comfortable position compared to what we face right now. Now they need to go to Saitama and squeeze at least a draw out of Japan.

In that context, the Confederations Cup could be a boon for a number of reasons:
  1. The competition could expose the fragility of the Australian defence before the important matches against Japan and Thailand - this would, in turn, hopefully set into motion proper change;
  2. If the Australians come away with a point or a win (the latter more unlikely), this would instill some confidence in the team; and
  3. Players who do not get a lot of club game time, such as Robbie Kruse, could be played back into form in this competition.
On the flipside, the Confederations Cup could also be a bad thing for the Socceroos:
  1. Injuries to key players for a tournament that pales in insignificance to the World Cup would be a disaster and absolutely devastating to our World Cup qualification chances;
  2. A serious loss of confidence after thrashings inflicted on us by other teams could be on the cards;
  3. A lack of belief in the current formation and confusion as to what other formations should be used if results do not go our way is possible as well;
  4. Is it also conceivable that we may obtain a false sense of confidence (if we get any kind of points in this group) as we are playing in a tournament we are not expected to win? Contrast this to the World Cup Qualifiers where there is real pressure -- but winning is better than not winning of course.
I expect to see Germany and Chile rack up comfortable victories, say 2-0 and 3-0 respectively, however I would not be surprised to see the scoreline double beyond that if we are not careful. I am also eagerly looking forward to Cameroon vs Australia which may prove to be competitive.

Whatever happens, I hope that it will somehow prepare us very well for the qualifier against Japan on 31 August 2017.

Andre Lim

Sunday 11 June 2017

Qianyi Hung

Dear Qianyi,

Happy birthday!

I didn't get you a card..

But I have this little tradition of doing a write-up for each of my friends in or around their birthdays.

I've not gotten around to all my friends just yet but what normally happens is I talk about all the things I like about a particular friend - usually in the hope that it is either encouraging to them, or others who may not have known about those aspects of their lives.

So I think it would be pretty absurd if I didn't do one for you!

So where do I start?

(I'll keep it short)

When we first got to know each other, what stood out to me the most was definitely your sense of humour. You have a lovely laugh and smile. Interestingly, you are graceful enough to have the occasional laugh at yourself, but at the same time you also have this unique way of looking at things from a different viewpoint or angle and finding something ‘random’ to laugh at. Which is kind of what I do too LOL. I think this is a refreshing and excellent trait and goes well with your inquisitive nature.
I also admire your proactiveness, your leadership skills and your ability to solve practical problems. To complement these, you are a solid people person and a great ‘people manager’ too. I think a good example of this is seen through the various events and activities you organise for church friends, and your commitment to your lifegroup. Your friends, particularly Edith and Tiffany, are also powerhouses in that respect, and I think that reflects very well on you.

These above attributes may or may not explain your passion for connecting isolated people to communities, particularly church communities. As you’ve mentioned to me before, there are quite a lot of lonely people out there waiting to be found, and I think this drive of yours to reach out for them (and to offer your time and service in that regard) is fantastic and to your credit.

You are also kind-hearted, respectful, random, funny and great company.

What I find really cool about all of this is the number of interests we have in common that are bizzarely aligned and almost a ‘bonus’ to all of the things that I’ve mentioned above. It is also quite amazing that we think alike and share similar world views.

So... I have probably embarrassed you enough so I think I should stop there.

I know our journey's just started but I just wanted you to know that this is what I thought of you. I am looking forward to our adventures ahead :)

I hope you had a wonderful day.

Andre Lim

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Socceroos v Saudi Arabia; Japan

Because of the draws to Thailand and Iraq, these next two World Cup Qualifiers are critical.

A win by a 2 goal margin is desperately needed in this first match...

Andre Lim