Steve Corica says Australia’s ability to keep possession under pressure from high-pressing Chile offers the Socceroos their best chance of blunting ‘La Roja’ in the sides’ opening group match at the World Cup.
The two teams meet in their Group B opener in Cuiaba this Friday night (Sat 8am AEST) in what is looming as an intriguing clash of styles.
And the former Socceroo, who played for Australia at all levels, is upbeat but realistic about the Socceroos’ chances in this all-important opening group match.
“Yes, they [Chile] are a really good team and have that South American style but they press a lot,” the 32 times capped Socceroo told www.socceroos.com.au on Tuesday.
“So it’s going to depend on how Australia can keep the ball under that kind of pressure.
“In the last couple of years, Chile have become a really good side. In fact, I think they can be one of the surprises at the World Cup.
“But the first game of a tournament like this is so important. If you can jag a win or even a draw it sets up the tournament.
“It’s not the end of the world if they [the Socceroos] don’t get a result but it does help to get even a point. They’ll grow in confidence and gain experience from that first game.
“Then, maybe, you have a great chance.”
The Socceroos have prepared specifically for this game with the players now peaking physically for what is expected to be hot conditions in Cuiaba. It will also be a massive test of their technical ability.
But Corica, a Hyundai A-League great and coach of Sydney FC NYL team, senses if the Socceroos can maintain composure on the ball there may be some joy for the green and gold against a Chile likely to be missing key striker Arturo Vidal.
And the Chilean high defensive line – exposed by Egypt in a recent friendly – is clearly an area Australia’s high-energy and quick attacking midfielders could, and should, expose.
“That’s the thing that Ange has to look at,” Corica, a former J-League, NSL and English league midfielder, said.
“Chile’s strength is their pressing and they’re a very good team with the ball but the weakness is they press up so high, leaving space in behind.
“Australia, we do have pace wide and that’s something that Ange [Postecoglou] will look at exploiting most definitely.
“Ange is all about playing football and moving the ball quickly. It will be a very good test. Hopefully Chile going in may be a little rusty in the opening game.
“And it is a World Cup, so it’s about results. No-one wants to go there and get disgraced. I’m sure Ange hasn’t brought his team to the World Cup to do that.”
Corica was the last Socceroo to score against Chile in a 2-1 friendly loss in 2000.
Interestingly, the Socceroos have had a man sent off in their last three clashes with the South Americans.
In that clash that featured Corica 14 years ago, Jason van Blerk was red-carded in Valparaiso.
In 1998 at Melbourne’s Olympic Park, Goran Lozanovski was given his marching orders in a 1-0 loss for the Australians.
And two years earlier in a game that saw teenager Harry Kewell debut for the Socceroos, the visitors lost 3-0 in Antofogasta with striker Joe Spiteri being sent-off in the friendly.
“From our point of view it’s a new team; a young team, and it’s all about learning,” added the 41-year-old.
“And the Australian public want to see their team give 100% and trying to win the game.”
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