The farewell match in Sydney was an entertaining affair in front of 50,459 fans but only a 1-1 draw the result.
Record scorer in green and gold Tim Cahill led out the Australian team in Mile Jedinak’s absence in an overall positive and exciting performance after only one week in camp for the Aussie team.
To be honest it was a poor pitch coughed up at ANZ Stadium, the Olympic venue from 2000, but the Australian team adjusted well.
It was a game that showed the strength in attack but also some frailty at the back.
A game laden with first half chances – with 10 shots to the Socceroos before the first 30 minutes; the game should have been over by then.
This attacking showing especially early on by the home team should provide hope of a fighting and tenacious Socceroos team in Brazil.
The opening goal went to South Africa and came from the space departed by Franjic on an overlapping run on the right. After a skillful run and layoff by Serero, an excellent finessed finish by Patosi to the back stick was too good for Matty Ryan between the posts.
A goal from a Timmy Cahill trademark header from wide looping ball from Tommy Oar just 30 seconds later was a great response to the South African goal and a well salvaged effort to that particular move by the captain on the night. It was his 32nd international goal.
As the game wore on and subs were made, the tempo of the game went out. Valuable minutes were given to McKay, Halloran, Vidosic, Bozanic, Wilkshere and Kennedy.
Final words; it was a forgetful second half, but that was expected as changes were made and interruptions slowed the game. More good things will come after some quality time as a squad when we see the Australian boys play Croatia at Salvador, Brazil in the final match prior to the tournament.
Take out from this game the dynamic first half with many forward runs and passes – Australia want to play an attacking style and that is refreshing given it will be a young squad going to the World Cup.
Ryan did not have much to do, but is a quality player. Distributed well with his feet. Unsighted for the goal.
The fullbacks did admirably throughout the game. Franjic unfortunately went off injured. Jason Davidson was one of the brightest performers and looked comfortable in possession, in defending, attacking the wing and supporting down the left. Centrally McGowan and Wilkinson did not have that much to do, were opened a few times but not out of place and often were well positioned to control the not so dangerous Bafana Bafana team.
The middle did not dominate but were not out of their depth against a non-memorable South African outfit. Holland perhaps will slide out of the 11 in Brazil if Jedinak is fit again. Troisi and Milligan also will be under threat from the likes of Rogic and Bresciano who both missed this game. More intensity will be required and a player that dominates the number 10 position is required. Nobody put their hand up in this position.
Wingers Leckie and Oar exploited space and were quick to get good service but crossing will need to improve if that is to be a weapon. This could turn into a source of success in Brazil, but much to do still. Cahill was again a focal point. When he had service he created, made runs and scored.
Key positive points:
– speedy wingers are able to get behind their direct opponents. Oar and Leckie are the correct choice first up against Chile
– full backs getting forward to support often will help keep the ball in forward positions
– good switching and across line runs by wingers pulls opposition apart
– powerful and experienced Cahill in number 9 combines well with the 10, 6/8 & 7/11 and is strong on the ground and heading in the air
– capable of defence splitting balls to wide areas from midfield
– Holes in defence were too many; inexperience showed against a second string team
– joint runs/pressing in possession by full backs leaves defence exposed on the counter
– more work needed in delivery from wide areas. Too few balls found a player n the box
– need to take midfield and dominate it. Jedinak will be part of the fix in defensive structure to midfield but number 10 is key to assisting the forward line
– earlier shots needed especially when creating good chances
– playing Cahill passes in wide positions is useless as his damage is done in the middle