Well that didn't go according to plan for Ange Postecoglou, leaving plenty of people asking questions. Meanwhile, Oman and Kuwait played a game, if you didn't notice.
1. When a conservative tact goes horribly wrong
Ange Postecoglou's decision to tinker with his squad with an eye to the quarter-final may have done more harm than good in Australia’s quest to conquer Asia in the forthcoming fortnight.
The omissions of the in-form Tim Cahill and Robbie Kruse were bound to raise questions about Australia’s ability to count on a genuine finisher when required.
No one answered the call and nothing more than Tomi Juric’s miss with a gaping goal in front of him attested to this. Whether another option would have snapped it up or not is too late to debate now.
What is clear-cut, though, is that a trickier route to the final berth now lies ahead, with China and potentially Japan in the Socceroos’ way.
2. Korea’s adaptability serves them
While many fans and pundits alike were gearing up for an Australian quarter-final final in Melbourne, Uli Stieike was preparing his team for a battle of their own.
Prepared to concede the lion’s share of possession, the spirited and skillful Koreans went about their business in style by playing the perfect away game.
Apart from providing their hosts with a couple of golden openings, they heeded calls sounded out after their opening two games to shore up defensively, which they did.
Line after line was put up every time the hosts held the ball, while their robust and generally flawless tackling helped foil many of the home side’s forays. A team to watch out for in the knockout stages.
3. Defensive imperfections not forgiven
Notwithstanding what could be described as an overall admiral showing from the Socceroos’ rearguard, Korea demonstrated that formidable opposition need merely one glitch to capitalise on and undo all the rest of the game’s sound work.
Ivan Franjic and two of his team-mates were drawn out of position by Ki Sung-yeung who used his nous to put through the surging Lee Keun-ho to make Australia pay with the game’s solitary goal.
A slip in attentiveness at the back has been a source of much despair throughout Postecoglou’s reign, leaving some work to do before the hosts can harbour genuine hopes of negotiating the challenges to come.
4. Kuwait’s inaptness in front of goal the difference
It was a case of the same old story for Nabil Maaloul’s men, who failed to trouble the scorers once again against the plucky Omanis.
Given a number of chances on either side of the interval, they again lacked the final bit of class that evaded them particularly in the second half against Korea.
Faisal Zaid Al Harbi, Musaed Al Enazi and Al Buraiki all spurned chances to avenge the 5-0 hiding they were on the end of against the same opposition in November.
Instead, they will be left to rue what may have been, leaving Australia without a point to their name.
5. Oman take home a pyrrhic victory
A largely stilted Paul Le Guen side may leave with Australia with three points, but they will have gained very little to be enthused about following a poor finish to an underwhelming tournament.
Tipped to trouble the lower ranked Australians and Korea in the group, they fell flat at every hurdle and could only have a half against Korea to be proud of.
One goal scored in three matches says a lot about the work their French boss will need to do to set them up for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers.comments