Work yet to do for Osieck
The loss to Scotland wasn’t the end of the world but it left Holger Osieck with some big questions to answer going into the next stage of our World Cup qualifying campaign.
The loss to Scotland wasn-t the end of the world but it left Holger Osieck with some big questions to answer going into the next stage of our World Cup qualifying campaign.
First of all, let-s put this game into some perspective: it was a somewhat makeshift squad, missing a number of big names, and Osieck used the game to cast his eye over a some hopefuls.
We should also keep in mind that the majority of the players are still only in club pre-season and so not yet quite firing on all cylinders, on a soaking wet pitch that made the ball difficult to judge and control.
But that-s about it as excuses go. The Socceroos underperformed - Lucas Neill admitted it after the game, as did Osieck, in what was perhaps his grumpiest interview throughout his time as coach of the national team.
Speaking to Fox Sports, the coach said, “It-s not about the result, it-s a matter of the performance and I expected a little bit more.
“Our display today was very, very... humph... basic, let-s call it that.”
Yes, he actually ‘humphed-, and with good reason.
The Socceroos were sluggish and disorganised in Edinburgh. They started well enough, patient and measured yet always looking to move forward, as has been the style under Osieck.
Mark Bresciano-s stunning strike should have inspired the team to push forward; instead, it did the opposite, as Scotland took advantage of loose balls and poor positional play from the Socceroos, gradually exerting their dominance in the middle of the park.
The goals conceded weren-t the problem - it was the way in which they were conceded.
The usually rock-solid Sasa Ognenovski allowing Jordan Rhodes to get in front of him to angle a sweet header past a stranded Mark Schwarzer; Jason Davidson marking his international debut with an own goal after a series of errors from teammates; weak defending allowing Ross McCormack to get away from two defenders before firing past Adam Federici.
Neill said post-match that these defensive errors didn-t concern him as the team knew what went wrong and would address it before the qualifiers.
But this was the fourth game in a row without a win for Osieck-s side, a run in which they have conceded six goals and scored just two.
And through these fixtures - the 2-0 loss to Denmark, the 0-0 draw with Oman and the 1-1 draw with Japan - it was only the backs-against-the-wall game against Japan in which Australia reached anything near their expected performance level.
That fantastic match proved that we should never count them out, and there is obviously still a long way to go in this qualifying campaign, but if what concerned Osieck about the defeat to Scotland was the performance rather than the result, should the rest of us be worried by the recent displays?
Osieck resisted calls to blood more youngsters against Scotland but he did give a number of fringe Socceroos the chance to stake their claim for a regular berth in the green and gold.
But they did little to suggest they are ready to add real strength in depth to Osieck-s options.
The left side continues to be a problem, with David Carney and Robbie Kruse struggling to have any impact against the Scots.
Scott McDonald got 45 minutes to make an impression but did little to alter his reputation as a passionate and committed but ultimately toothless attacker.
The debutants Jason Davidson and Ryan McGowan fared little better but were not in the position to lift an entire team battling to find any rhythm.
The obvious class of the likes of Bresciano, the livewire Holman, the increasingly impressive Rhys Williams and Alex Brosque, whose movement leading the line revealed just how his game has developed during his time in Asia, illustrated that the Socceroos still possess individuals of real quality.
But who outside that first-choice XI has shown himself ready to step up? And with two qualifiers coming in September and October, both in the Middle East, Osieck himself has a lot to do to raise the consistency of his side-s performance.
The Socceroos could only draw with Oman back in June - we need more than that against Jordan and Iraq to stay in touch with Japan.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of of FFA or the Socceroos.
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