The Socceroos were a few notches above New Zealand. There was a big difference between the standard of the individuals between the two teams. Players like Emerton, Aloisi, Vieri etc were able to glide past their New Zealand opponents all game. The Aussies were so much sharper.
For their part the Kiwi's played very defensively. They defended well with numbers. At corners there were 10 to 11 Kiwis in the box and only three Aussies.
Australia had a lot of trouble with the linesman in the first half and this certainly contributed to keeping down the scoreline. Vieri in particular was outpacing his defender. When the ball was kicked he would be clearly onside - he would outpace his defender and then would be flagged for offside - possibly the linesman was thinking that there was no way that Vieri could gain so many yards on his defender in such a short distance. There was around four wrong offside decision when Vieri had beaten the defence and was one on one with the goalkeeper.
In one particularly bad decision Vieri had his back to the goal shielding off a defender and he was flagged for offside - it was simply impossible for him to be offside. I did feel some empathy for the linesman as it was a pretty daunting environment compared to the games he would normally officiate.
Overall the scoreline was flattering for New Zealand. On the day the Socceroos were at least four goals better than the Kiwis in my opinion.
It was an absolute joy to see class players like Aloisi, Vieri, Emerton, Bresciano etc at Hindmarsh Stadium. They are such gifted players. Emerton is just so quick and powerful. Aloisi - well I think he is so good that maybe he should start ahead of Viduka. Vieri is incredibly quick for such a big player - he works very hard and always looked likely to score - what a great pick up for the Socceroos. Bresciano - well he is looking like he will be the best midfilder Australia has ever had - his skills are just sublime and what a brilliant free kick.
Hindmarsh is a brilliant venue to watch soccer - your so close to the action you can lean over the fence and almost touch the players. Kiwi goalkeeper Paton probably would have preferred to have been a lot further away from the crowd. Every time he kicked the ball he must have been wondering where all of the "baaah-baaaah-baaaah" sheep behind the goals had come from.
Every time I see Kalac I am still surprised at his size - he is a man mountain. His warm up routine before the game was something worth watching. His time in Italy has turned him into a complete professional and I hope some budding young goalkeepers paid some attention to his approach to the game.
It would have been nice to have seen Kewell and Viduka on the park but in all honesty I do not think Australia missed them - nor does Australia desperately need them. Rather it is players like Lucas Neil and Craig Moore that we really need because it is in the backlines that we will be lacking when coming up against South American opposition. I am not saying that Kewell and Viduka are not brilliant players - just that I think we tend to underestimate the quality of others like Aloisi and Vieri (and Agostino?). Emerton down the right flank and Kewell down the left flank with Viduka and either Vieri, Aloisi or Agostino up front is an absolutely world class forward line.
If you go to www.standunited.org you will see a few pictures from the game.
Well we are on the way to Germany 2006 and this time we are going to go all the way!!