So I’ve had a day to think about the Olyroos’ incredible victory over Argentina.
We are in the Group of Death, after all, but no doubt most people calling it that would have been thinking about the other three – Argentina, Spain and Egypt.
And yet it is Australia looking down from the peaks after Round One, having put the Albi-Celeste to the sword after Spain and Egypt fought to a stalemate.
Of course, that’s not to suggest we’ll still be on top after two more rounds but we have a chance of progressing. Argentina are likely to take points off the other two so it could be that just one more point would be enough to get through.
Stranger things have happened.
In any case, I’m just absolutely chuffed to bits over the way we played as well as the result. Is it too soon to say there are green shoots of another Golden Generation starting to show?
The first thing to say about last night is the importance of young men playing lots of first team club matches. Some of the standout performers, at the age of 23 or less, are already veterans of the club scene.
Riley McGree, Nathaniel Atkinson, Thomas Deng, Harry Souttar, Thomas Glover, Lachie Wales, Denis Genreau have all had multiple seasons in first team football. (I’m not counting Mitchell Duke, even though he played well.)
Joel King, Connor Metcalfe, Marco Tilio, have all had breakout seasons in the A-League.
Daniel Arzani and Caleb Watts haven’t had that many first team games but are both exceptional talents already.
I don’t know enough about the Argentinians to make decent comparisons but I suspect our boys have logged more minutes playing against men. It showed.
Our calmness playing out from the back to avoid the Argentinian press was masterful, and then there was no little quality on hand to press our advantage. It’s true we played against ten men for over half the match but our defense coped fairly comfortably. I seem to remember Glover making only one save.
But going forward we troubled them from the first minute. The forward movement and passing out of defence was excellent. Some of the combinations weren’t quite there in teh final third, and a few passes went astray, or weren’t given when they should have been. (I’m looking at you Daniel Arzani…)
But we also missed a few sitters. It could easily have been four. You’d need to go back to Charlie Yankos days for the last time we put four past Argentina! (Ahem)
As for the individual performances. Deng was brilliant. Souttar was comfortable.
Both the wide fullbacks were great (Atkinson just about MOTM for me). McGree and Genreau were more than a match for their counterparts, and the attackers were always dangerous.
As a side note – Ange Postecoglou is desperate to find some fullbacks to suit his style at Celtic. He could do far worse than to bring in either or both of Atkinson and King.
We look forward to Spain on Sunday – wondering how they’ll cope with a couple of bad injuries – but at the same time concerned over the seven (count them) yellows we copped. The ref was a bit card happy but our discipline was poor in a couple of instances. Sliding tackles in the opposition half are so unnecessary.
Arnie will have to decide whether he rests some of the affected players to try to get a result against Egypt, or whether he plays his best team to go for a result against Spain. As I said before, there is a good chance that just one more point will be enough. He does have some decent options to come in.
For now however, Australia sits proudly atop the group and have shocked the world – not just by beating Argentina, but doing it with such style.
Adrian's books can be purchased at any good bookstore or through ebook alchemy. His first sci-fi novel will be published by Hague Publishing in late 2021.