While there was renewed hope and expectation that Australia would do well in the Asian Cup and compete at the highest level following their 4-1 win over Kuwait last Friday, there was still an edge of uncertainty as to whether or not the Socceroos could continue impress on a regular basis.
So much so that, as I sat in Stadium Australia’s media centre for up to six hours prior to kick-off, waiting in anticipation for the ‘Big One’, there seemed to be a restless chatter filling the room. Could the Socceroos win it? What would happen if they were to draw with Oman, or worse, lose?
As minutes and hours drew by, there was a feeling that some sort of upset could be on the cards.
After staring at my accreditation card for a good minute or so, a visiting Omani journalist (we’ll call him Waleed) finally plucked up the courage to introduce himself to me. His questions on whether I thought Oman had a chance against Australia were akin to some Biblical trap the Pharisees tried on Jesus.
His questions sowed doubts (The Diary doubts a lot of things…) and once again, uncertainty prevailed.
The 4-1 thrashing though should see any sort of doubts dispelled – the Socceroos are now arguably the fan’s favourites to win, and no one should question their credentials.
Remarkably, though, Tim Cahill, who came off in the 50th minute, did not score a single one. How wretched luck!
Tomi Juric though, scored one os his trademark acrobatic “I’m sliding along the turf” goals and judging by his “Mama, Tatta, Braco” under-shirt, he only has his family to thank. Oh how awkward it would’ve been had he missed…
Farcical referee decisions continue to plague what has been an excellent tournament thus far – no doubt Japanese ref Ryuji Sato will be thanking the heavens that Mark Milligan scored.
But, as we venture home from Homebush with Pure Blonde in hand, drunk and jolly, it’s hard to forget why Stadium Australia is such a bad venue. Transport, location, and terrible seating arrangements are just some of many reasons as to why it really isn’t the best sporting venue.
Nevertheless, the Socceroos should be confident of their match-up against South Korea – who have so far failed to impress - in Brisbane. Losing one of your key players in Lee Chung-Yong doesn’t help either.
For the record, though, it was The Diary’s first-ever Socceroos live experience. And much like the 12-year-old who has become China’s lucky charm, The Diary likes to think of itself as Australia’s self-proclaimed lucky charm as well.
Meanwhile, it seems North Korea have been attracting a lot of attention in the Asian Cup. A quick flick of the media data book shows that crowd numbers in past tournaments have been far from impressive. Yet, for Uzbekistan vs North Korea to attract 12,000 + football neutrals in conjunction with the fact that the match was the program with the highest ratings on Foxtel for Saturday December 10, it seems as if the Cup has caught on. Kinda.
And, for the ABC to get 500,000 viewers for a two-hour delay of Socceroos vs Kuwait, it’s quite remarkable how much attention this tournament is getting.