The Socceroos first major tournament as part of Asia was the 2007 Asian Cup. In the leadup to the games Australia also played 2 warmup games against Uruguay and Singapore. The following are some selected thoughts and feedback on the ozfootball mailing list to represent some of the feelings the fans had as part of this occasion.

Australia 1 - Uruguay 2

Written by Gilbert McInnes

Never to play again

Brad Jones
Ryan Griffiths

Thin ice

Michael Thwaite

Jury still out

Patrick Kisnorbo
Brett Holman
Scott Mc Donald
Carl Valeri
Nick Carle
Archie Thompson

Head above water

Luke Wilkshire
Mile Sterjovski

Gets the job done

Brett Emerton
Jason Culina

Bloody hero

Lucas Neill

Written by David Marshall, responding to Ray Gatt

Very disappointing I thought. I will say up front that my review will
be coloured by the fact that I am suffering from a cold, and therefore
wasn't in a great mood to watch football  :) 

I didn't have a cold and I know things do look different on the box from how they do at the ground, but I was not really disapponted over all.

I thought as a whole that we lacked cohesion, which I guess is not that
surprising considering the number of changes. Granted, we aren't
likely to come up against anyone of the quality of Uruguay in the
Asian Cup, but I think we need to show a substantial amount of
improvement if we are to have a realistic go at winning it. There were
times when we put together some very nice passages of football, but
there were far too many times when we seemed to have no direction in
midfield, and our passing went astray far too often.

Funnily enough. I thought cohesion was the one thing we did have. I agreed with Hill that the Guus legacy of controlled and patient passing were still evident, despite the number of changes. We don't know yet, but I suspect the quality shown last night could well be enough to do well in Asia and, obviously, there are a lot of good players who will be available then. We did play a few poor square balls in midfield, but didn't suffer as a result.

Attack - apart from Sterjovski's goal, we seemed to lack focus in
front of goal, and returned somewhat to the bad old days of no-one
wanting to actually take a shot - everyone was always looking to pass
off to someone else, it seemed to be.

Arnie's set up made it difficult for our lone striker - Uruguay are not is bad defensive side and isolated him very expertly and rather than not shooting early, I thought clear sight of goal was generally well obscured by their defenders.

Midfield - generally disjointed. Sometimes looked good,and scrapped
hard, but improvement needed.

Improvement should be coming. For the first half hour or so we scrapped well, defended high and were very composed on the ball. IMO.

Defence - Lucas outstanding as usual, but we gifted them two goals
with poor marking and bad handling by Jones. I'm not sure I agree with
Gilbert that Jones was at fault for the first goal, but there was
certainly a lack of marking - even if Forlan had missed the ball there
was a second unmarked Uruguayan waiting to tap it in.

Lucas was brilliant again - no doubt world class. We didn't have a real left back and Chippers might sort that problem. Despite that they had few real chances and both goals may well have been prevented. The first down to sleeping for a free kick, leaving their most deadly passer in space and perhaps Jones being a little slow to anticipate the excellent pass behind our defenders. The second - awful!!

I thought the ref was pretty average, and gave a few very easy free
kicks against us.

I seem to disagree with this too! He did miss the slap Archie took in the box, but we had a good number of fair free kicks, but really do need to practice our set pieces.

I was also quite disappointed with a section of the crowd just behind
me who started bagging out Archie Thompson as soon as he came on, and
kept it up for the rest of the match. Now, I'll happily put as much
crap on Archie as possible in an A-League game, but surely, when he's
playing for Australia, we should all be supporting him.

A point of total agreement here (at last :-) ). As a United supporter I have seen various reds cop this from the Ingerland booers and now follow them primarily with the hope that none of our players are injured and actually feel quite please if they get beaten.

Overall, I could not help but cast my mind back to the late sixties and seventies and think just how we have progressed. Generally more savvy and skilful and the one thing that stood out for me last night was the ball played out of defense - even when hurried - having direction and purpose, probably even more so than our illustrious opponents.

Written by Fred Legget

I agree mostly with David's summation.

Also it would be unfair, and counterproductive I think to write Brad Jones off because of one absolute, state of the art howler.

Remember, he's coming from not having played for a few weeks, and when he did, it was in the football combination or whatever it is called now, to playing in front of 65000 people or so, against a team who are genuinely Alan Hunter.

I was also slightly and grudgingly impressed by the performance of Kisnorbo, whom I did not rate, but concede that because he is an ex Lithuanian club side player, my judgement towards him may have been ever so unbiasedly clouded.

However, he did seem ok on the ball which surprised me.

Sorry, I know Guus Hiddink may know marginally more about the game than myself or the others on this list, but Luke Wilkshire to me, was and remains, a player who is not international standard.

Similarly yon Griffiths laddie, despite what Robbie said about him, makes me shake my head when his name and the words 'international player' are mentioned in the same sentence.

Lucas Neil was once again, excellent, Thwaite is not a left back, and McDonald was never going to outjump the Uruguay defence when high balls were pumped up to him.

Mind you, he'd even have trouble outjumping the Lilliputian defence if we were pitted against them I think.

This could be McDonald's last game for a long time in any competition other than the Glasgow Cup by the way.

Celtic, having embarked on a strategy of buying up every forward who scores more than 10 goals a season in Scotland, whether they have two legs or one, are not going to have room to fit them all on the bench, never mind in the side, so don't expect him to get much game time next season - but I digress.

First half, some silky stuff coming out of defence, but apart from our own scrappy goal, I couldn't see another one coming if we were still playing now.

Forza Jnr and I watched the game the warmth and luxury of the Narellan Vale stand, and commented twice during periods of play when OZ simply kept possession, that when the crowd started whistling - that it appeared to us that the crowd who now attend such games may not really understand football in the same way we do - almost as if they expect to see a 90 minute game crammed full of action from an 'EPL highlights' show.

Anyone else hear the whistling?

Australia 1 - Oman 1

(nobody cared much about the Singapore game)

Written by Fred Legget

Firstly, before we concentrate on any of our own perceived shortcomings, let's acknowledge that Oman were a very , very capable side.

Comfortable on the ball, strong in defence, technically gifted and with the ability to break quickly from defence in numbers.

From what I saw, it is THEY who should have the mantle of 'favourites' in this competition.

Now, on to us.

Many will deny it, but going into this match the media seemed to put out a message that 'we are so good, all we need to do is turn up and beat the pesky weather'

It was almost as if, we need worry not about any football teams that we might encounter along the way in this competition, no, the only thing that would deny us our rightful crown as champs of Asia is if we fail to come to grips with the weather conditions.

We started the game almost at walking pace - again one presumes because I can only assume that 'conditions' as opposed to our opponents appeared to be upper most in our pre match thinking and preparation.

From both as a player(ok a crap one) and as a spectator, I am aware that if you start off at a very slow tempo, it is very difficult to raise the tempo if things do not go to plan, whereas if you start of at a fairly robust tempo, you can always drop back.

Much easier to drop down a gear, than to go up a gear so to speak.

There is no doubt in my mind that the tactics were entirely wrong at the start, and I think Graham Arnold has been reading Oz's own publicity too much - we ain't Brazil who can control a game with silky skills from the opening minute - and for me we are always at our best when we pressure teams, as opposed to stand off them and let them play, as we did for the entire first half.

Oman's coach no doubt will be sending Graham Arnold a thank you card.

Had it not been for Mark Schwarzer, we would be in a very, very different position to what we are in now.

Andy Harper talked about 3 world class saves, but I also think the cross he cut out near the end from the right along the deck, also mattered because I have no doubt that the Omani forward would have managed to get his foot to it first had it been allowed to come cross the box.

Now a few observations..

Graham Arnold: Poor tactics at the start, not much better later on when we STILL seemed to want to go through the middle.

Also, we were obviously at least a game underdone and would have benefited from 8another* game other than just one against Singapore.

Luke Wilkshire : If this guy is international class, then I am a Hearts supporting, English loving, Kylie hating, card carrying member of both the British Conservative and the Australian Liberal parties.

Patrick Kisnorbo: Not the worst he has played but again, if found wanting against Oman, what is he going to be like against Italy etc.. His time at Hearts has obviously arrested his development.

Harry Kewell: Struggled all night, and obviously underdone, although presumably the thinking was that we could afford to have a 60% Harry in this game - well guess what we couldn't; and I would have subbed him at half time.

Having said that, I'm sure he'll be much better - as everybody will - for the run.

Mark Viduka: unfortunately we rely so much on Dukes and he didn't have a good game tonight - partly because he was up against some excellent defenders

Tim Cahill" Thank dog for him and his enthusiasm.I refuse to play him ever at monopoly as he must have pockets full of 'get out of jail cards'

Mark Schwarzer" Even Michael Cockerill is going to have to write superlatives about him now, instead of trying to write him off. He is a goalkeeper who does the essential things so well without trying to make them look spectacular l, and I reckon his third save, where he unspectacularly closed the guy down and blocked his shot with his body, when it really should have been in the net, said It all.

Finally, I thought the referee was very, very good, the coverage on Fox was also very good, and Ange Postecoglou and Andy Harper talked a lot of sense..

Written by Ross Musso

When all is said and done... we played poorly and got a draw against what I thought was an extremely good Oman.

No doubt the boys are still underdone and could be considered lucky to get away with a draw however, there's no doom and gloom as far as I'm concerned. This is a tournament where it will be won and lost towards the end of July... not this week or next. Australia will undoubtedly get better as the tournament progresses and I have a few theories for this optimism.

1. Compared to last year's World Cup (in terms of preparation), I would place the team's progress as it would've been about a week before the Japan match. The pre-tournament training camp in Singapore was certainly tough but they only played ONE MATCH. We played 3 matches before taking on Japan in Germany.

2. Most of our players have had between 3-4 weeks off after the end of their Euro seasons before getting into camp. Last year, they hit the ground running with a match against Greece in Melb. in late May, then onto a tough pre-tournament camp in Holland where they played more prep matches. Remember, the World Cup was over by this time last year.

Finally, there is no doubt we scraped through with a draw against a better performing team last night. The way I see it... it was a sensational result.

Written by Lino Fusco

It was a terrible performance, we deserved to go down by two or three goals. If that had of been the World Cup we would be out of the tournament after the first game - we would have been punished by any side that had the quality to qualify for a World Cup - something Oman are not.

Just on the preparation - I am sure none of the other teams have prepared for the tournament in the same manner as they would have prepared for a World Cup. Its a level playing field - and we were crap.

Its better to be honest and move forward. We can only get better.

Australia 1 - Iraq 3

(yeah, it got worse)

Written by Joel Gaskell

Utter, utter, utter crap, obviously. I have often seen Australia lose, but never so embarrassingly and never with such a lack of spirit and endeavour. Perhaps David's accusations of arrogance have some substance.

I had wondered if we would regret having Arnold fall into the job and it seems we have the answer. Arnold might be a good bloke, but he has no coaching credentials in terms of record. He did a poor job at Northern Spirit and only ended up with this job through attrition. It still amazes me that we let Neeskens slip away after Hiddink left. Tonight's team looked like they had only been introduced to each other before the match, discipline was poor and the preparation for this tournament has obviously been inadequate.

Of course, the players have to bear the bulk of the responsibility. They looked uninterested, slow and unwilling to do the work to get back into the game. I can't think of anyone who came out of that game with any credit.

Written by A Legget

I don't understand why we continue to play everything through the middle. The keeper was absolute rubbish when under pressure and the one time we did go down the wing and knocked a good ball over we scored. Which was taken well by viduka i felt.

kisnorbo should not have been there from the start and i felt did better than any of the iraq team in putting us under pressure. I think one could reasonably argue that Iraqs first goal should have been a goal kick as it appears that no-one touched the ball from the free kick and Grella's foul was nothing more than dangerous play which is indirect but the ref didn't view it that way and Schwarzer probably should have done better.

Arnold is definently gone and one can only hold him responsible i feel for certain decisions. kisnorbo being one, i felt Beachump should have been on from the start as it seems to be pretty clear (well to me) that kisnorbo isn't up to it. I can only think that the constant playing of the ball through the middle must have been a directive from the coaching bench. In all i don't think we played well in either game, obviously the conditions and the lack of football will be one of the reasons given for the poor performance but i think poor defence and tactics are more to blame.

Written by Fred Legget (he writes a lot doesn't he)

Quite simply, we were not good enough.

We got what we deserved.

Before we start the 'blame game' let’s look at what could possibly have prevented such a disaster..

Debate will rage, but personally I think the biggest factor, was the non appearance of Craig Moore.

Had he been playing, I do not believe that we would have suffered defensively as we did.

I do NOT think we have the players coming through that we need to replace those that have/are on the verge of retirement.

Also what I believe is starting to and will emerge, is the 'feel good' factor about being in Asia, may not be appreciated as such by the players....certainly the timing of the competition did not benefit either Oz nor our European based players..or our Oz based players

The punters may be happy that it is relatively close to home, and THEY can get holidays to watch...but that is not thebe all and end all....

Not looking for comments of..."irrespective of that he should have grabbed it anyway" (which he should have) but to me Iraq's first goal wasn’t one.

A free kick was awarded for dangerous play.

It *should* have been an indirect free kick, but the ref failed to raise his arm to signal it as indirect.

The free kick went into the net untouched by anyone else.

Had the correct decision been made with the free kick..i.e. an indirect free kick for dangerous play, then the correct decision when the ball crossed the goal line was a goal kick to Australia and NOT a goal to Iraq.

Too late now, but even before the free kick was taken (and long before someone woke up the Fox commentators to it) I said to Forza Jnr..."it's indirect, but he's not signalling it"

Written by Peter Thorpe

Rarely have I seen such a ramshackle performance, full of mistakes, stumbles and mystifying errors. Oh, I'm not talking about the on-field events, rather the efforts of Andy Harper who plumbed new depths with yet another cliche ridden performance, mangling the English language and relentlessly mixing metaphors. Rarely do you see a person speak so many words yet say so little.

On the park, things were not a whole lot better were they ?. Kisnorbo is sadly lacking in the area most important for international football i.e. between the ears. It only takes the opposition to put together 2 or 3 quick passes and he loses concentration, orientation, positioning and the plot. Wilkshire too has been poor although I do have some sympathy for him playing out of position. Schwarzer was badly at fault for the 1st goal (the ball bounced almost on the goal line !) but his saves in the first game help to excuse that error.

As for changes for the Thailand game, Arnold may reprieve Kisnorbo because of Neill's suspension but I hope not. Further forward surely its time for Cahill to start (in place of Holman) and perhaps to use Bresciano off the bench and start with Sterjovski.

Even if we do qualify for the KO stage (which is still a reasonable chance) the prospect of meeting Japan in the quarter final is very worrying.

Australia 4 - Thailand 0

(perceptive guy that Peter...)

Written by Paul McGarry responding to David Marshall

I know it was "only" Thailand but the newbies did really well did they not?
Beauchamp I already thought was a good player, Milligan surprised me and
Dave Carney made no mistakes. We had a bit of luck, but had a lot of

Indeed, Carney in particular played some very clever football and could have probably been used a bit more often when he was out on the wing on his own. Beauchamp and Milligan also stood up. We were still leaking more than we should but overall we did pretty well.

Thailand played well and were particularly strong after their subs came on but we didn't panic too much and as our fresh legs came into play we pulled the game back.

Not sure Viduka deserved man of the match but his two goals were classic Viduka and exactly what he is there for. Hopefully his goals and Harry's finish might put the team in goalscoring mood for the next game.

I never doubted we would do it!*

*This may be a lie.

Written by Fred Legget

In the interest of spirited debate, I will offer the following

1 Now that Oz has reached the 'knockout' stages, expect band wagoners to once again congregate around the water cooler in city offices, and offer their expertise.

2 He copped a severe slagging, so I think its only right that he be praised for turning things around – Arnie that is.

3 Patrick Kisnorbo should never play for Australia again.

4 Mark Milligan, who did not impress me early in his career with Sydney, but later won my respect, should be in the team ahead of Vince Grella, who has had a shocking tournament in my mind, giving the ball away repeatedly.

5 Michael Beauchamp, who should always have been playing ahead of Kisnorbo, is a prime example of why Australia desperately needs a 'youth league' along the lines of the old NSL youth league.

6 Tim Cahill is a superb substitute, and once again changed the game when he came on

7 Harry Kewell is no longer an automatic choice, and I wonder what is in store for him at club level

8 Luke Wilkshire is not as crap on the right as he is on the left, but still remains short of international class

9 David Carney had a good game, but I fear he will be exposed if played in the same position against Japan. Too often he had to ‘tackle back’ instead of facing the oncoming player, and if I was the Japanese coach I’d target his inexperience in this position. (Mind you, with Wilkshire on the other flank, its a toss up!)

10 I do not believe 59 year old Dick Advocaat is the best choice to take Oz forward, and I worry when it is said that Frank Lowy is personally paying his wages...does that mean FL will do a Mad Vlad and influence Advocaat?

11 I do not know what the bolloxy international placing is for Thailand, but I'd caution against getting too optimistic about progressing further in this competition based on us beating a side that, if they appeared at the world cup, would be expected to get severely humped every game.

12 Much as the three 'youngsters' excelled in defence, I worry that, as with most youngsters, inconsistency may come to the fore and they may go from heroes to zeros next game.

Australia 1 - Japan 1

(Japan win on penalties)

Written by Ross Musso

Apologies in advance for this long ramble. It is very reflective, somewhat self indulgent and portrays a positive slant on our national team and this tournament. Unlike many, I don't see all doom and gloom so if you're after mass character assassinations and vitriol... just delete now.

Reading some of the media reports and blogs on our elimination last night brought back memories about the bitterness of our 2001 Uruguay experience. Thankfully, the game is in a much healthier state and controlled by better minds these days so there will be no need for a knee-jerk (& ludicrous) 'Plan B' to salvage the game from this loss. OK... the dream of collecting some Asian silverware is now over and the metaphorical hyenas are now gleefully sharpening their pencils to write obituaries on the personnel involved. It's all Arnie's fault, or Lucas or Dukes or Harry or Schwarzy or FFA management or whoever else didn't measure up to their expectation. Death riding our national team seems to be a sport that so many Australians excel and indeed revel in. I guess it comes with the territory of being (arguably) our biggest national sporting brand - when we win the Socceroos are 'super heroes' and when we lose, people must be executed by the circus of ill informed public opinion.

In saying this, I'm not suggesting that the criticism of their performances in the opening matches of the tournament wasn't justified, but what I found ridiculous was some of the downright personal attacks and sweeping generalisations being bandied around by supposedly impartial journalists and blog editors.

Like I said, there's absolutely nothing wrong with having an opinion on our national team. In fact, it's a very healthy thing for our sport and sponsors love the fact that people are so emotionally involved. Yes, we didn't win the thing, and people are genuinely sad that we didn't... and that's a great thing.

I stated right after the Oman match that the team would be a few matches away from having a decent performance in this competition. I based that on the timing of our players coming back into training after having a 3-4 week holiday post-Euro seasons etc... It wasn't an excuse; it was a valid, and one of a host of accurate REASONS for our sub-standard performances early on. So the question now is: Could we have prepared for this tournament better?

Well when you don't win you can always do something better I guess, but the fact remains that the Euro based players needed time off at the end of their seasons. Think about it!!! Before this post-season break, most of them have had barely 2 - 4 weeks off since around August 2005 and it has been a pretty intensive time over those 2 years as well. Last year the team went straight into a pre-World Cup camp after their seasons ended and tapered their training to peak at the World Cup.

The fact is that this team simply didn't have this luxury due to the timing of the tournament and as such would not have peaked to their German World Cup levels - even if we made the final. I'm no doctor, but I have been exposed to a fair few team preparations and this WAS definitely a factor. Likewise, this was an issue for the Japanese, but not to the same extent as they had players in their squad from the currently active J-League. We did not have this luxury with the super short A-League still a month away from kick off.

What about Arnie's tactics???... well I'm not really qualified to analyze this to the same extent but I reckon we looked better with two strikers - I think that Harry and Tim had better impact off the bench, I thought some of the A-League lads showed that the future maybe isn't quite so dim, but they need to get overseas to taste more cut-throat football on a week to week basis to complete their football education. Therefore, I don't agree with Branko on this at all because the A-League just can't offer that at the moment.

Did we underestimate the competition? I'm not sure if the players and coaching staff underestimated how difficult the opposition would be in their own conditions - but certainly the media and public did. The blowtorch was then turned back on Arnie's comments about considering a semi-final as a pass but aiming for the final (or words to that effect). Funny thing is that if Arnie had come out and said that this tournament would be extremely difficult for all the reasons mentioned above, he would've been lynched for under playing our ambitions. The fact that he came out and said that the team was focused on winning the thing was not arrogance in my opinion - it was what the Australian public expectations were. Let's face it... Arnie was in a no win situation with any pre-tournament summation.

Now we're in Asia and have seen for ourselves that qualifying for the World Cup won't simply be a matter of turning up - should we regret it? NO WAY!!! We are now in a much fairer system and in fact will get to compete in 3 or 4 'crunch' home World Cup qualifiers over the next couple of years. This will do wonders for our education and help ensure that football stays at the forefront of the public's interest - even if we fail to make the World Cup in 2010. This is a long term goal not a short term fix and if football didn't collapse when we failed to qualify for 32 years... it certainly won't with regular and meaningful competition.

Sure there's disappointment in losing last night but we should also look at the anecdotal evidence of the strength of our brand today. This supposed 'mickey mouse' tournament obviously enjoyed a heightened interest level amongst the general public; perhaps hungry to experience the euphoria of Germany 06 again, but even the media began to fawn over it. The Socceroos loss was the lead story in many bulletins and relegated the previously dominant Bledisloe Cup (Rugby Union) to a 2nd string story. These are the signs that sponsors look for MUCH MORE than how the team has fared over a 90 minute period.

All considered, I'm not in the doom and gloom camp at all. We will most likely never see some of our all time greats in a national shirt again so the time has come for the next generation to step up and carry the game forward to 2010 and beyond. Are they as good as our 'Golden Generation' - not yet they're not but I also don't think we're totally screwed either. Look forward to seeing guys like Kaz Patafta, Kristian Sarkies, David Williams etc... take the next steps up to the Gold and Green. Remember Kewell, Viduka etc... were once unknown at this level as well - IT'S TIME!!!

Written by Ray Gatt

Well, all the critics are out in force, aren't they? Why am I not surprised. I suppose we shouldn't expect anything different from them because nothing short of winning the final was going to be acceptable. Were Japan better than Australia? I don't think so. They passed the ball and dilliy dallied around looking pretty, but what did they create.

And lets not forget, they had a 1 man advantage for 45 minutes in searing humidity and still could not break us down. Yes, Schwarzy was brilliant and made two super saves. But, let's be serious here, the Japanese were ineffective.

Had we stayed with 11 men who knows what would have happened.

Other points to remember, the Japanese have been in Hanoi for weeks and well acclimatised and settled in to ther hotel and the surrounds. They are used to the conditions. They are in season.

Australia battled their hearts out, but they couldn't play with the same verve and tenacity they are used to because of the conditions and the lack of match fitness..yes, Im starting to sound like a beaten coach, but that IS the reality.

Plus I believe the refereeing has been against us. It wouldn't have looked good for Australia to win the Asian Cup or make the final at the first attempt. There have been moans and groans about letting us in to Asia, so Imagine the bleatings if we won the Cup or made the final??

I could write more, but I can't be ersed because I iknow the knockers will shoot my thoughts down in flames and find fault. I'll just say I enjoy wearing my heart on my sleeve.

Written by David Marshall

If you can stomach watching the game again you will see that with one exception, and one other occasion when he played it short, every goal kick,free kick or long clearance in general play by Mark Schwarzer ended up in Japan's possession. I don't think it was entirely his fault, but it just panned out that way. It was one of the reasons we were the lesser on the possession stats and they were able to push us back so much.

I have often said I don't like Emmo, but generally that was as an attacking mid fielder - running into dead areas an passing poorly (as he did a few times last night) but his defensive work this tourmement impressed me as did his stamina and ability to actually accelerate after nearly two hours in the sweat shop was remarkable.

I still think the way the lads dug in at the end was quite admirable and showed they do care and were willing to put in for Australia. Our first two penalties were abysmal and thereafter we never had a chance.