Best and worst of the Socceroos

The Socceroos won the opening game of the Asian Cup against Kuwait 4-1 in the end but it wasn’t all smooth sailing as Con Stamocostas' 11 key moments of the match show. 

The first game of the biggest football tournament in Australia since Sydney 2000 came quickly, like the shadows of dusk that take over the light during the magic hour, when birds start the cacophony of noise to signal to their bird mates that the end of the world is coming.

1) Just as I almost predicted

When Kuwait scored the opening goal of the tournament it wasn’t just the birds that were yelling “kah it’s the end of the world kah” it was Socceroos fans all over the country as well.  Hussain Fadhel's eighth-minute goal caused a collective jarring groan across the country and earlier predictions that the home team’s campaign would be stuttering like their previous friendly games were proving to be annoyingly spot on.

2) Deja vu all over again

Experiencing a World Cup deja vu the Socceroos again started a major tournament nervoulys.  A combination of schoolboy error defending of not keeping the man on a post at a corner, and the dreaded disease of ball watching, led to Kuwait scoring.

Then the infighting began. The sight of Tim Cahill yelling at the bearded twins of Aziz Behich and Mile Jedinak (is that the most perfect beard?) for their horrible defence was a wake-up call for the team to not fark this up!

3) Wrong Escapegoat

The Socceroos' opening was poor and an early scapegoat was needed. The Kuwaitis were playing one-twos all over the place and Andy Harper the Fox Sports commentator found his escapegoat (it's a new word an illiterate twitteratti created not on purpose) in Massimo Luongo who by the end of the match was the 199th player to be touted as the next Harry Kewell.

4) Leckstar is not a postman

Mathew Leckie did a perfect impersonation of a swan dive in the 25th minute that had swans everywhere shaking their heads. It has to be very soon that Leckie’s go-to move of swaying and swerving his defender in and out will produce an assist or a goal. Leckie could never work as a postman. Sure, he gets in good positiosn but the final product never arrives. Still, I don’t mean to be too harsh, I’m a fan of the Leckstar I’m just a little frustrated that at the moment he’s just tip and no berg. (That’s a Paul Keating Iceberg joke I stole, sorry.)

5) Why?

So with the Socceroos 1-0 down the questions started filling my head: Why do the Socceroos only came to life when they go a goal down?

Why did the Socceroos have no practice game before the Asian Cup?

Is Leckie’s first touch in this game as poor as a coffee at Starbucks or as poor as the majority of Arts degree graduates?  Or as poor at those two last similes?

6) The Oscar goes to?

And the time wasting Oscar goes to Kuwait’s Fahad Al Hajeri for his supporting actor role in the independent film 'I’ve been hit by a Sniper' that occurred in the 29th minute.

7) Tim Cahill does it and Simon Hill says it again!

Just before half-time Luongo crosses into the box and the double act of Australian football of the last eight years comes to life as Tim Cahill and Simon Hill do it again!

When Cahill finally retires from football at 59 years old I can’t wait for the Tim Cahill and Simon Hill show comes to town. A DJ dance show will feature vision of Tim Cahill scoring at World and Asian Cups and those dulcet Simon Hill tones will yell over and over again to whatever horrible dance music will be the trend at the time.  

8) it’s a Luongo way to the Top (Sorry Kevin, I stole that one)

In the 40th minute Postecoglou tries to conduct the Socceroos from the sideline when he yells “Tempo”.

Five minutes later the Socceroos finally figure that tempo is not on the pitch and that Postecoglou actually meant for the team to play faster or slower - I’m not sure but who cares, the Socceroos score a goal before half-time.

The goal showed two beautiful pieces of skill; Ivan Franjic’s little side step to move the ball to his left foot, skinning the Kuwait defender and giving himself space to cross on his left to set up Luongo for a great header while leaning back.

9) The Perfect Beard and just Kuwait

Mile Jedinak’s perfect template infused beard scored the third goal in the 62nd minute after Kruse who has the frame of a boy and the face of one too was brought down. The commentator reckons it was the speed of his poor first touch. Never has bad technique been rewarded in such a manner before! 

“Just Kuwait we’ll be back” the Kuwait fans chant as the Kuwaitis had two quality chances to get back in the game. One in the 65th and one in the 79th which was a rasping shot by Fahad Al Ansari which produced the save of the game by  Mat Ryan who seems to like the full body extension saves more than the near post ones.

10) Those misses really Burn(s)

Nathan Burns, who has been in the Socceroos wilderness since his two substitute appearances at the last Asian Cup, could have had a brace, but the fairy-tale wasn’t to be.  An amazing 75th-minute diving header by Burns was then followed up by an amazing sequence of play. Later, an audacious outside of the foot pass by Leckie in 85th minute saw Burns unlucky not to score when his close range shot was freakishly saved by the Kuwait goalkeeper’s legs. More of Mr Burns please Ange!

11) All aboard the Socceroo bandwagon

The fourth Socceroo goals saw Leckie almost produce a final product when he swerved and swayed yet again causing the ball to pop up in the box, which was was pounced by Troisi who finished biblically well with the Camel through the needle of an eye finish at the near post.

There is much more depth and quality in this Socceroos squad than what was on display at the World Cup. Sure the defence is a bit dodgy and the team relies on Tim Cahill too much but I’ve got Asian Cup fever and I reckon the Socceroos could go all the way past the quarter-finals!

PS: Herding the midfield like a sheep dog was the best Andy Harpersim of the game

Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Check out Episode Four of his latest A- League Football Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.