What can I say? I just reported on the end game tactics of Australia to capitalize on Croatia’s weaker defense because of banned player Robert Kojac sitting out the last game.
The game is arguably the most exciting and heart stopping show so far in the tournament which ended with Australia making history by booking the last ticket to the the next stage.
I did not think the Australians could win this won after getting beaten by Brazil in their last game especially for a team that has no record and players with enough experience to play a winnable pressure packed last game. Down 2-1 with 11 minutes remaining, Kewell fired a shot from centre penalty are right low with his right foot straight towards the back of the net. Australia exploded in triumph as they only need a draw to qualify to the next round and after the 79th minute goal it seems they are likely to make history.
Kudos to Hiddink for bravely making risky moves like putting both Kewell and Cahill alongside for the first time, playing Kalac who spends most of his time on the AC Milan bench at the expense of number 1 Mark Schwarzer.
It was a tough battle though as ESPN highlights some of the most frustrating and difficult plays of the game:
Tim Cahill, Mark Viduka and Kewell all wasted chances to equalise and Australia were just starting to run out of ideas when Stjepan Tomas stuck up a fist to deflect away a Brett Emerton cross.
Poll spotted the infringement and though the gap between the Premiership official blowing his whistle and Moore stepping up to take the keep seemed to last forever, the Newcastle man kept his cool to fire home.
Then came Kalac’s abberation. Getting right behind a seemingly innocuous Kovac strike, the keeper somehow managed to let the ball slip through his grasp and into the net. With Schwarzer sat not five yards away, Hiddink must have wanted the ground to open up and swallow him.
It was another shattering blow. Yet Australia refused to buckle. Time and again they bashed away.
Another Tomas handball was missed by Poll, Kewell’s shot was brilliantly pushed over by Stipe Pletikosa, Cahill went agonisingly close.
But the goal that would not come eventually did. Marco Bresciano floating over the right-wing cross which John Aloisi flicked into Kewell’s path.
All Kewell’s talent which is so inconsistently on show, did not fail him this time. Control with the chest, finish on the volley. Easy as that.
Australians came in the competition without anyone thinking they could win a game, now they made one of the magical stories in this Finals. Congratulations and keep up the good work but please don’t do it at the expense of Brazil.
[tags]FIFA World Cup, World Cup, Germany, FIFA World Cup 2006, Soccer, Brazil, Australia, Socceroos, Diary[/tags]