World Cup Player Ratings
David Cooper takes a look at how the players performed during the World Cup.
Our first foray at the World Cup finals in over 32 years is over and almost all agree it was a relatively successful campaign. Given the circumstances surrounding our exit against Italy, there is also a case of what might have been, if we had overcome the European powerhouse and somehow made it through to the quarter finals.
Our team went to the World Cup at novices and as a team of solid performers, who are more physical rather than technical. But there is no doubt Australia has made the football world stand up and take notice, with good performances in all four matches from a football perspective.
Powerhouses Brazil and Italy struggled to beat us and with some more belief and composure in front of goal, results could have been different.
From the players side of things, most stood up did what they had to do and rarely looked out of place. We take a look at the squad and access their performances throughout the tournament.
Mark Schwarzer Was fairly solid all round, although some still argue he was partly to blame for the controversial goal against Japan, where he was taken out, because he did not come quickly or hard enough. Dropped for the crucial Croatia match, he was back for the Italy game and made several telling stops including one with his legs that was first rate. One of his biggest drawbacks is his failure to move the ball out quickly. Rating: 6/10
Lucas Neill - STAR PLAYER Australia-s best player at the tournament and a commanding presence in the unaccustomed position of in central defence. Combined well with Craig Moore, was composed and usually accurate with his distribution, strong and fair in the tackle and ability to be in the right place at the right time was a feature. Perhaps his only blemish was the foul (that wasn-t) that led to the penalty against Italy and ultimately Australia-s elimination from the tournament. Some say if he stayed on his feet then the situation wouldn-t have happened. Easier said than done in the heat of the moment however. Rating: 9/10
Craig Moore It was easy to see why his return to the team was eagerly awaited for this World Cup. His partnership with Neill meant Australia had a solid base to work with from the back. He might not have the speed, but his ability to read the play countered this supposed weakness. Rarely lost a header and when a cool head was required against Croatia, calmly converted an equalising spot kick. Good tournament. Rating: 8/10
Tim Cahill After his two-goal late heroics in the opening match that saved Australia from defeat against Japan, most thought Cahill would grow an extra leg. But his impact when starting games was not as great, although his role changed somewhat with each game. Never really looked adding to his tally after that and we didn-t really get to see those trademark late runs that netted him a lot of goals for Everton. Had one golden chance to win the match against Italy late, but sent header over bar. Rating: 6/10
Jason Culina Industrious, without being spectacular. Played every minute of Australia-s four games and was workman like in his performances. Mainly used in a deeper role, which curtails his natural creativeness and attacking flair. Rating: 6/10
Tony Popovic Injury plagued Popovic-s World Cup campaign. Was surprisingly given the chance against Brazil and was looking solid at the back, when the niggling calf injury returned and basically ended his World Cup. Rating: 5/10
Brett Emerton Another of Australia-s best throughout the tournament. His ability to keep running for the full 90 minutes was a highlight and his absence against Italy because of suspension was noticeable. Best game was against Brazil, where he curtailed the effectiveness of Ronaldinho. Spoilt his World Cup with his red card against Croatia, with both yellow cards very soft. Rating: 7/10
Josip Skoko Saw no game time. Rating: n/a
Mark Viduka Started with a brilliant first half against Japan, but after that struggled to make any real impact in games, although he was not helped by some over-refereeing at times. Playing as a lone striker, he often found himself isolated and this probably led to him giving away a lot of fouls, despite him usually the one playing in front. As our main striker had very few shots at goal and failed to score in any match. Played every minute of the four games, which is rather unusual for the big man. Rating: 6/10
Harry Kewell His injury problems continued to plague him during the lead up to the World Cup and also during the tournament. When he did play he showed why he was important to the team and again his absence in the Italy game was noticeable. A full 90 minutes in the Croatia match, where he showed some of the flair of old and capped by the game equalising goal that sent Australia through to the second round, gave reason to think he would play a key role in the knockout stages. But his injury curse struck again, but it wasn-t his troublesome groin this time, but the more unusual symptom of gout. Rating: 6/10
Stan Lazaridis Did not play any game time Rating: n/a
Ante Covic Did not play any game time Rating: n/a
Vince Grella Played his role to perfection. Tackled, harassed and was the main link between defence and attack. Ronaldo certainly found out who he was with one crunching tackle early in the match against Brazil. Often the brunt of referees because of fierce tackling, he showed tremendous discipline, receiving just two yellow cards in the four games. Rating: 7/10
Scott Chipperfield One of the unsung heroes of this Australian team. Had an outstanding tournament in the unaccustomed role as left wing back and even looked comfortable when he played in a back three with Neill and Moore. Linked well in attack, which was never more emphasised that he had two of Australia-s best chances against Italy, but was denied by Buffon both times. Rating: 7/10
John Aloisi Used as a substitute in all four games and on each occasion, gave an added dimension to the team. Was strong on the ball, strong in the air and caused plenty of headaches for the opposition defences. Scored a terrific goal against Japan and has assists for two other goals. Would have been interesting to see what impact he would have had for Mark Viduka if they had started alongside one another. Rating: 7/10
Michael Beauchamp Did not play any game time Rating: n/a
Archie Thompson Did not see any game time Rating: n/a
Zeljko Kalac Got his chance after long being in the shadows of Mark Schwarzer in the crunch match against Croatia. However it-s a match that he would rather forget, with his first touch of the ball, to pick it out of the back of the net and then a howler of mistake for Croatia-s second goal. He was most thankful to Harry Kewell for ensuring his mistake was not fatal. Not a tournament he will remember fondly playing wise. Rating: 4/10
Joshua Kennedy One for the future on his showing in the two matches he came on as a substitute. His height caused major problems late in matches and played a major hand in the equalising goal against Japan. His lanky frame belied his strength and willingness to get stuck in when he needed to. For a tall man, has quite good ability with the ball that supplements his height. Rating: 6/10
Luke Wilkshire Surprised many by getting two starts in the tournament, not bad for a player that was not even a regular for English League One side Bristol City. Showed he wasn-t totally out of his depth with an assured display in the centre of midfield against Italy. Had some problems early on playing on right side of midfield against Japan, but recovered well enough to hold his own. Rating: 6/10
Mile Sterjovski Another who made the most his opportunity after being somewhat of a surprise selection. After missing opening game against Japan, got a call up against Brazil and showed some nice touches on the right side of midfield. Will no doubt do his confidence the world of good and will hopefully improve as international player in the process. If he can fine tune his crossing, will be a more complete player, because he has all the skills to play role at a high level. Rating: 6/10
Mark Milligan Did not see any game time Rating: n/a
Marco Bresciano Didn-t have the impact that most were hoping he would have at the tournament, with Guus Hiddink unsure how to fit all his attacking midfielders in the system. Started in the Japan game and linked well with Viduka, but was substituted by Cahill and only an injury to Harry Kewell had him back in the starting side against Italy. Solid, without being spectacular, it is also obvious he is our best player at set pieces. Rating: 6/10
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