The Socceroos played the World Champions on Monday night and, though they lost 2-0, they should hold their heads high.
The rest of the world thought we had no chance. They couldn’t understand why we bothered turning up. They certainly couldn’t understand why Eddie ‘Everywhere But At His Desk’ Maguire rocked up to Munich with Fatty, Reg, Sam, and Shane to talk about a game that is patently beyond them. (But, then again, nor could most Australians. We assume that Park Street sent them.)
But we knew why the Socceroos turned up. It wasn’t to lose or even to look for a sneaky draw, like the Croats did. It was to go all out for a victory against the odds like true Aussies.
Supercoach Guus ‘The Nightwatch’ Hiddink’s intentions were clear from the side he fielded. Despite the craven predictions of the reptiles of the press, three of the four Australians already on a yellow card were not rested. No, they were there signalling that we wanted to win and thought we could.
The self-confidence of the Socceroos was deserved. Since last October we’d beaten the old enemy, Uruguay, then the European Champions, Greece, the treacherous Liechtenstein, and the whale-killing Japanese, and finally, we’d drawn against the highly-ranked bicycle-riding Dutch.
True to our intentions we dominated the first half, controlling the ball and keeping the Brazilian hyperstars very quiet.
Strongest among the Australians was Vinnie ‘Studs-Up’ Grella and Lucas ‘Heights’ Neill. These two defended like their mothers’ lives depended on it. Actually, given that Mrs Grella and Mrs Neill weren’t seen at the ground, this may have actually been the case.
Grella deserves plaudits for getting away with the most egregious tackle of the tournament on, arguably, the most famous and ugliest player in the world Ronaldo. (The double qualification in the previous sentence is necessary because of the celebrity of David Beckam’s hairpiece and because it would be hard to ignore Ronaldinho in any ugly contest. In addition to similarities in name, the two Brazilian strikers appear to frequent the same orthodontist and have had the same work done the ‘Makybe Diva’ smile.)
Grella’s tackle was all the more impressive because he came into the game with a yellow card against his name from the match against Japan. Had he been given one in this game he would have been suspended for the Croatia game, which Australia needs to at least draw to proceed into the second round. Ronaldo received the ball just outside of the penalty box and before he could say ‘neigghhhhh,’ Grella committed a hate crime against the outside of his right leg once the most expensive leg in the game; and, if the rumours about his eating disorder are correct, now potentially the most expansive leg in the game.
Grella and Neill controlled the Brazilian strikeforce and, with it, the game. They provided good ball to the Australians on the flanks, Brett ‘No Knees’ Emerton on the left and Jason ‘Three Knees’ Culina on the right.
This commentator has, in the past, been highly critical of Emerton, calling him a ‘girly-man,’ and suggesting that he would struggle to get picked to carry the oranges let alone peel them or eat them for the St Mary’s U8s Girl’s Soccer Team. However, perhaps in response to my prior criticism, Emerton stepped up. And based on his performance on Monday, Emerton could probably start for the St Mary’s girls.
The second half did not proceed so well.
Thanks to Warren Brown
An early goal for the SeleÃ§Ã£o was not part of the script. Buck-toothed Ronaldo received a ball in an offside position which he held up before passing to Adriano (not from Wheel of Fortune). Adriano did a few tricks before sliding a ball between Scott ‘Fish And’ Chipperfield’s legs to the left of sprawling gatekeeper Mark ‘the Wall’ Schwarzer.
Chipperfield couldn’t believe it. Schwarzer couldn’t believe it. The Aussies couldn’t believe it. And a couple of people in Belgium couldn’t believe it.
But the Aussies did not give up. They had several excellent chances before the end of the game but could not seal the deal. After starting on the bench, Harry ‘Constructive Criticism’ Kewell found himself in front of an open goal and somehow managed to confuse up with down pushing the ball over the top bar.
Another non-starter who had an enormous impact after coming on was Mark ‘?’ Bresciano. ‘Bresh’ took the attack to the samba men and could have evened the scores on two occasions. His first chance saw him steaming down the left wing with the defence trailing in his wake and only the keeper to beat. But either the moment overwhelmed him or his now-infamous ear infection reasserted itself, and he was dispossessed of the ball in the box, after holding on way too long.
The other chance came in the last 10 minutes when ‘Bresh’ defied gravity to launch a scissor-kick volley towards the top left-hand corner of the Brazilians’ net. The Brazilian keeper, Dida, who learnt his craft playing football on the mean streets of Rio with no shoes and coconuts instead of balls, made an athletic leap to just keep the ball out.
Mark ‘Goals Aren’t Everything’ Viduka also had something of a chance but pushed it over the crossbar. The Captain has held the ball up well and provided a willing target for the mids, but so far has looked less likely to score than John Howard at the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
The Aussies were unlucky to have a second goal scored against them. Guus had pushed our men forward looking for an equaliser, and Brazil’s goal resulted from a lucky rebound off the right post, which was walked in by substitute forward Frederico Chaves Guedes , better-known as ‘Fred’ (such creativity! No wonder they dance so well).
The two-goal margin didn’t do justice to the Socceroos.
The next game is against Croatia on Friday morning. We need to draw it or better, and we need the Japanese not to beat Brazil by more than 2 goals. It will be about as big as a Croatian family reunion actually, it will be a Croatian family reunion, with six members of the Socceroo squad including Captain Viduka having Croatian heritage and three of the Croatians having been born and grown up in Australia.
Australia ‘s lead up to this last game of the first round may be distracted by a question mark hanging over Harry Kewell. When the final whistle was blown Harry apparently approached the ref, Markus ‘Marky-Merk’ Merk, to offer him some constructive criticism about his refereeing and to compliment his mother on her choice of profession.
Due to cross-cultural barriers and Harry’s poor German, the Marky-Merk appears to have misunderstood Harry’s good intentions. Harry could be disciplined under FIFA rule 7.1 for failing to properly conjugate his German verbs.
Guus Hiddink had this to say in response: ‘Harry are (sic) perfectly within her (sic) rights to the refugee (sic) some advice. Languages are diffident. Harry is a good boy from a nice farm.’
Keep your fingers crossed for Harry and the boys. A draw is all we need but, somehow, I think we’ll go for the WIN!
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