The Socceroos’ 1-1 draw with South Africa’s Bafana Bafana posed as many questions as it did answers.
For all the energy and industry of the opening 30 minutes, Socceroo defensive frailties were cruelly exposed.
A demoralising farewell home defeat was only averted in the time honoured manner, by a Tim Cahill header.
The bottom line is that we can’t transform this team into one that plays with the flair of Vicente del Bosque’s Spain or the withering tempo of Chile.
We are what we are, a footballing nation dreaming it up all over again with players who must discover the best and worst about their abilities in the most unforgiving of all circumstances - the FIFA World Cup.
If it doesn’t keep Ange Postecoglou awake at night contemplating what might be, he can rest assure there are plenty of us enduring sleepless nights on his behalf.
It’s easy to be consumed with trepidation at what awaits in Brazil, but that only ensures those fears will be realised all too easily.
There are positives to be drawn from what we saw against the South Africans.
Certainly the buy-in from Postecoglou’s players to their coach’s philosophy is absolute.
As they did against Ecuador in London in March, Australia attacked the game with an exuberance that gladdened the heart.
This Socceroos team has been told it's ok to play for the first time in four years. It suits them. Australia doesn't do pragmatism well.
Tommy Oar provided the artistry against South Africa in behind the ever menacing Tim Cahill and it gives us hope that there are goals in this team.
With the inclusion of Bresciano and Jedinak in midfield there is hope that we won’t simply be trampled in the middle of the park.
We do have something to work with.
Yet it’s at the back where the anxiety comes at rush like a Bells Beach breaker.
Ryan McGowan and Alex Wilkinson looked uncertain and indecisive on too many occasions.
Jason Davidsons’ desire to embrace Postecoglou’s parachute football philosophy - take the leap, pull the rip cord, enjoy the ride - requires a player with sharp instincts before bombing forward.
Davidson’s tendency to leap before he looks too often leaves the back door open as if it were a country kitchen.
The sight of Ivan Franjic limping off before the end of the game compounding Postecolgou’s defensive emergency just added to the unease felt by Socceroos fans everywhere.
Why Sasa Ognenovski was over looked at a time of crisis in defence will become a question asked with ever-increasing frequency if Mat Ryan ends up picking the ball out of his net with miserable regularity.
For Curtis Good, 2014 has been a year of heartache as injury robbed him of his World Cup dream when his country needed him most.
Like Good, Adam Sarota and Josh Brillante’s time will come, but with over a dozen midfielders in this squad of 27, something had to give.
A heavy training schedule robbed the players of their sharpness for the second half of the game against the South Africans.
Come the opening match against Chile we know for certain that the one thing we can control, their physical preparation, will be spot on.
And then the work really begins for Postecoglou. To build belief, resolve, confidence and fearlessness in a team that barely knows their capacities let alone each other.
Australia’s World Cup will be played above the shoulders.
And it starts now.
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