Well that’s that for another 4 years.
We thump a few wee island nations and then get thumped ourselves by Australia. On the other side of the Tasman of course, they say “we’ve thumped a few wee island nations and now its time for the 4 yearly ‘win at all costs’ match”. What really hurts is that they are right. New Zealand has become – in footballing terms – a wee island nation. Last Sundays slaughter in Sydney was quite frankly embarrassing. Of the All-Whites only Vaughan Coveny & Noah Hickey came away with pass marks and of those two, only Coveny would get a sniff of a place in the Australian team… and then only if Viduka, Kewell & Agostino stayed away. Can you imagine what the score might have been had those three played?
A few weeks back I wrote that it was important for Oceania to be seen to be competitive and how disturbing it was that Australia had just finished slaughtering teams. I wish Frank Farina had read that article..he might have taken pity on Dugdales Dynamoes. Australia were scoring at will and you couldn’t help thinking that if they had had to score ten they could have. Our sole reply was a penalty and though it was unquestionably a correct award, have you ever seen a softer penalty being given? I’m sure Tony Vidmar must have had 2-1 at half time in the sweep such was his stupid tackle which led to the kick being awarded.
Australia have now well and truly left New Zealand behind and I wonder how long it will be before we can seriously go into a clash with them with some confidence of victory. What was very disappointing was the performance of our overseas “stars” (their word NOT mine). Elliott, Vicelich, Killen, Nelson… one hoped that they would have improved sufficiently to at least provide some resistance to the Ocker onslaught. In truth it was hard to pick them as being any different to the home based players. They too failed to find players when they passed the ball, missed simple tackles, were found ball watching, lacked positional sense & couldn’t track runners. Put simply this New Zealand team was poor in the very basics of the game.
Now is the time to make wholesale changes to the side. Our under 20’s performed admirably against Australia, going down by an extra time golden goal in their two leg play off for a world cup spot. The Australians then progressed to the latter stages of the tournament where they were eliminated by Brazil. Perhaps now is the time to draft the under 20 squad into the first team en masse. Get them playing together and importantly playing together regularly. In 4 years time they may have matured enough to at least be competitive with Australia. They certainly couldn’t do much worse than the current lot.
Australia then have a magic double header to look forward to in November. First they meet France in a friendly in Melbourne and then follow that up with the world cup playoff against a South American country …quite possibly Brazil. I wonder if the All Whites have fixtures set for those weeks and who against? As if. We wouldn’t want to start building for 2006 too early would we?