As Printed in Soccer World, February 15 1974 page 5
Australia missed a glorious opportunity to score a rare victory against First Division European opponents when they drew 0-0 with Ferncvaros at the Sydney Sportsground last Sunday.
The Socceroos matches the Hungarians in every department and would probably have won had they not paid Ferencvaros the undeserved compliment of regarding them too highly.
Ferncvaros, on Sunday's form, is possibly the most disappointing European team seen here since Cardiff City and Slavia Prague.
Even technically, some of their players, especially their younger brigade, were not superior to the Australians.
Lack of confidence cost the Socceroos a victory they would have deserved as they had the better of the play, though the big scoring chance of the match was Ferencvaros'.
Only Branikovits knows how he missed an open goal in the 73rd minute after he had skirted past two defenders and rounded the sprawling Jim Milisavljevic.
A Ferencvaros win would, however, have been a travesty of justice as they did precious little to force the decision.
They gave the impression they could have played right through the night without scoring.
But the Australians must share, at least equally, the blame for the match developing into a sporific affair, which incurred the slow-clapping of the crowd which should have been more indulgent because it is too early in the season for Australia to be seen at best advantage.
Our defence and the midfield, as usual, were competent. All the players in those departments did all that was expected of them, even combining attractively at times, but oh, the strikers .....
No matter what combination Rale Rasic tried in the second half, when three strikers were substituted, the result was always as depressing.
Hardly a move was concluded as players invariably lost the ball, stepped over it or gave a pass straight to the Hungarians.
It would be nice if occassionally some of our players tried to take on the opposition. By now they should have enough confidence to try their luck as they do in club football.
Some of our players just have to take their responsibilities and lose their timidity when they get close to goal.
Rale Rasic said after the match he was "happy" with his team's performance and that the players had followed instructions well.
"They are still only 60% fit. It was a big improvement on Adelaide. We'll get better still," he said.
Rasic had his team playing 4-4-2 in both matches to get ready for the battles ahead in Germany where it will be vital for the Socceroos to avoid humiliating defeats.
He has every reason to be satisfied with the manner in which the team adapted to the system at the rear, but the two strikers - an important part of the 4-4-2 pattern - flopped badly.
To successfully play the 4-4-2 a team must have fast, decisive strikers.
None of the players chosen for these difficult tasks in Adelaide or in Sydney filled the bill adequately.
I only counted three Australian shots at goal at the Sportsground!
The most heartening aspect of the match was the imporved form of several key defenders and midfielders who played much better than in Adelaide.
Schaefer and Utjesenovic showed the benefit of a tough midweek match and were almost back to their reliable best.
Peter Wilson, like in Adelaide, was the best Socceroo. But, then, when does he not rise to the occassion when he plays for Australia?
Curran, Jim Mackay, Ray Baartz and Rooney also showed up well, I thought.
They were the equal of their Ferencvaros counterparts, none of whom, Juhasz excepted again, looked too classy.
Campbell, Warren, Buljevic, Tolson, Alston, and to a lesser degree, Abonyi, disappointed.
I would be surprised if Rasic, despite his loyalty to all the players who served him so well in Australia's qualifying campaign, does not bring in some new strikers into his World Cup squad.
Some players have had ample opportunity to win their berth for West Germany, but have been unable to grab their chance with both feet.
Let's give some others a chance: they couldn't do much worse, even considering there is not all that much to choose from in forward talent in Australia.
Referee Tony Boskovic had a first-class game, again convincing one and all that his selection to the World Cup panel was justified and long overdue.