Australia 0 - Japan 3

Just back from Hindmarsh Stadium. Pissed down with rain (in February...what is this? Melbourne!), was bloody cold and we got whipped. Was always going to be tough with the conditions and 10 men, but there is still quite a few players who should now say "thank you for the experience, but have my Socceroo shirt back...I won't need it again!". I hope Tel, Raul or whoever the hell is next in charge takes note of who can cut the mustard, and who can't.

Some quick player ratings (imho):

Kalac: Had a nightmare. Can't hold a dry ball, let alone a wet one. Only very good fortune saved him from a real embarassing night/scoreline. He should have covered that header Amicis hanballed.(4)

De Amicis: I think a good player who made a dumb choice under duress. Kalac nowhere near..let it go or risk the red card and penalty? Maybe if it was the end of the game, but not 5 min mark. (1)

Ivanovic: Still a tower, considering he marked the centre almost solo after the send-off. A grand player and a shame I won't see him in France or any World Cup where he could have made a mark. Bugger off all you lot that say he is over the hill. If only.....farewell Ice Man. (7.5)

Tobin: Solid despite being forced a little left of normal position in absence of De Amicis. Made one bad error, then recovered to win the ball back. Usual good goals his fault. (7)

Longo: Hopeless. I used to think this guy was a good player, but lately....... Made some schoolboy errors and came off at half-time for Horvat. (3)

Tapai: Great game considering result. Covered every inch of the park. Attcked, defended and got a bit from the opposition too. Best for Oz. (8.5)

Halpin: Reasonable game, but not as good as his last one. Maybe the wet conditions, or the pacy opposition, but OK nonetheless. (6)

Emerton: A couple of decent crosses mut not much else. The boy isn't ready for the big-time yet. Surprised he stayed on the whole game.One good chance to score missed. (5)

Trajanovski: Quiet, with little impact. Plenty short of Wednesday's effort, and the nippy Japanese troubled him. Also lucky to stay 90 mins. One good shot that was saved. (5)

Saad: Did some good things and did some DUMB things. Falls over a lot and missed a good opportunity also. Not my first choice up front (ribbit!). (5)

Markovski: T O O O O O S L O O O O O O O W W W W! Useless fat git. Let the Japanese run rings around him, instead of shielding with that mammoth frame, and out-jumping for headers (yeah right, Jonesy jump...). Back to McDonalds....extra fries. And stay there....(off at halftime). (2)

Mendez: On at halftime...ran a bit and got injured and came off about 20 mins later. No impact (1)

Horvat: On at halftime. Did what he usually does. Stands and watches mostly. Had a chance to score, but couldnt control it, and a frighteningly dumb back-heel interception attempt let the Japanese run on to score their second goal. If it was Iran, I would have killed him myself. And this is the guy many of you prefer to Milan back there....sheeeeesh! (4)

Trimboli: On late for Tapai. Got in amongst it but had little time to influence the game. (3)

Lozanovski: On at the end and did nothing. (0)

In summary, the Japanese were well-drilled, tougher and handled the conditions better, and their last goal was a cracker. They could have had more, but that said, it was Pros vs Part-timers, and I still think we are on level par with our first choice side. Maybe better, but we wont know, will we?


Good show by the Hindmarsh people though, despite the weather. Good crowd (maybe 10,000), celebrity curtain-raiser, large video-screen, official opening of grandstand by state politicians, half-time Nintendo 64 feature, with kids playing International Superstar Soccer patched in to the big screen, and generally a good spectacle. Amazing Japanese media contingent snapping and filming everything....must have been hundreds of 'em. Huge amounts of equipment, laptops, name it. Now that is professional sport. Maybe one day......

Oh well, back to the EC......

written by Lance Librandi