If it's Tuesday it must be Perth.
You know what I mean, a nice neat package, statue here, museum there. Get all cultured up, go home feeling better. You don't really learn or appreciate it as much as you might though. So too this Socceroo tour.. you see the players (well not Harry.. or Mark... but you never get to go inside the Vatican library either) and attend the functions and generally feel good about supporting your team. None of this seems, to me, to be about building the team though. It's a bit of publicity, charity and maybe some experimentation. If it's any more than that we're in an arseload of trouble. I mean against New Zealand, forget the World Cup.
Inside the first minute, or very soon after, Ilhan benefited from some wayward passing (well Milicevic just passed the ball to an Indonesian who just passed it forward) and the worst attempt at offside trapping I've seen all year. He was more or less through on goal, somewhat wide and chased by what I think might have been Tony Vidmar (I'm not sure what that tells you, but it tells me plenty if it was him). He had a shot which was saved by the outstretched hand of Kalac and the followup shot skewed off his left foot in such a way that suggested he's very right-footed. I want to say it was just as well Ilhan isn't a better striker but in truth he didn't need to be Ronaldo or Henry, I suspect more often than not Ilhan would score that himself.
The bulk of the play, thankfully, did not occur at the Kalac end. Eventhough the commentator was conceding Australia were not making too much progress it seemed equally true of their opponents, though really you would expect that. Mile Sterjovski showed off some diving skills, which looked pretty good on TV but didn't fool the naked eye of the referee. The Indonesians weren't that good, but it looked like they were really putting in. I don't like being critical of the Socceroos, and perhaps they didn't need to raise a sweat in this game but these are, supposedly, fringe players. A chance to impress in an A International... well damnit it's a spot in the Confederations Cup and, perhaps, the World Cup. Of course as a fan a lot of the practicalities are either hidden or ignored, but that's why it's good being a fan.
Then, Stan Lazaridis, for no clear reason, suddenly realised he was playing football and easily ran past a defender on the left, wrapped his foot around the ball to send it into the middle and found the willing and able Ante Milicic who glanced the ball very nicely into the far netting with his head. It really was a very nice goal, aided by the absence of any real marking.
Ljubo Milicevic tried to make up for the defensive lapse by producing one of his own by spooning a cross by Indonesia towards his own goal. His aim was lousy and Kalac was quick and tall enough to ensure that didn't matter. Overall though the goal did help get the Australians playing more confidently. The Indonesians played well across the back though, and made sure they made up for any technical shortcomings with weight of numbers.
I thought Australia were trying to take shortcuts to goals, dispensing with the niceties of posession and movement you really just end up running the ball forward and either trying to break the net from outside the area or crossing it in and hoping your general height advantage pays off (see goal 1). It's not a _bad_ tactic but really it is the dating equivalent of "Haven't I seen you before".
40 minutes in and the Australians finally forced Hendro into a save through Sterjovski. A long ball forward was very nicely controlled by Sterjovski off his chest and a turn and shoot on the volley towards goal. Very nice. Indonesian defence somewhat complicit in making it look that way. There had been many, many shots prior... but they seemed to have an inverse relationship between power and accuracy. Little by little it looked more likely Australia would double its lead and less likely Indonesia would remove it.
Moore and Emerton off and Elrich and Popovic on. I guess it worked a few days ago but this time all it did was allow Indonesia a few more half chances at goal. Astaman, the Indonesian captain, managed to prove his commitment by earning the first yellow card of the game. It wasn't a dirty game by any stretch.. although Ilhan who had to be replaced in the first half had to have a number of stitches in his head.
Then from a corner Popovic got his head on the ball sending it goalwards, straight to the keeper. Were it not for a foot stuck out by Milicic connecting with the ball by enough to strand the keeper it would have been a non-event. As it was it was the second goal. A slight suspicion of a final touch by a defender but I don't think he's in any hurry to claim it.
As the game progressed more changes were made and Australia continued to threaten the goal most of the time and Indonesia not so much. It was good to see the side improve as the match went on but it sucked that they started off playing so badly that it was so noticeable when they improved. Now passes were going to places where there was a man with the same colour shirt on, the touches became a little neater and a little more inventive. Overall though I would have to say it was still below their best.
Yes, late in the piece Elrich and Zdrilic combined to score a third. It was a neat enough goal and well done but the opposing defence was either tiring or had just come on. Komboy was notably surprised to be chasing Elrich so soon. Elrich took the ball towards goal, passed it to a more centrally located Zdrilic who nailed it into the net on his second touch just beating the keeper to the ball.
What was this game good for? Well for starters a lot of money for the Tsunami relief fund. A rare chance for Perth to witness the Socceroos and, oddly, I appreciated the chance to see the players of one of Australia's closest neighbours. It's weird that we have such a strong link to the UK and USA that we end up with better access to information on obscure sports like Baseball and Darts than we do to any sporting achievement of our nearest neighbours, unless it's New Zeland getting pasted by the Aussies ;-).