Take that, Japan! Take that, football media! The Qantas Socceroos came back with a performance of guts and energy to earn a well-deserved point in a thrilling game.
Everyone had been down on the Socceroos in the lead-up to this game. They were too old. They had no strikers. Players were frustrated with the coach. Players were suffering from the travel. They weren’t able to beat Oman, so how could they beat a rampant Japan?
Yet again, Australia proved they can turn in a big performance whenever they want. The loss to Denmark looks like the foundation work it was. The draw with Oman looks like a side working as much against the climate as the opposition.
Japan were supposed to teach us a lesson in Brisbane but again Australia proved they are equal to their more technical Asian rivals. Japan certainly play the ball better and are more able to exploit the angles as they work towards the penalty area – but against a defence as experienced and physical as Australia’s they found it nigh impossible to break through.
Holger Osieck played it cool for this game. He didn’t respond to any of the pre match hype and he picked a side that could hold the ball in midfield and help the defence when required. Alex Brosque and Tim Cahill worked tirelessly upfront with little reward but they were always available and always ready to track back.
The enforced changes to the Australian team seemed like disasters. The loss of playmaker Mark Bresciano looked set to frustrate the style of play, and there is no doubt the Socceroos lacked some smarts without him.
His replacement Mark Milligan was useful without being totally effective, but Osieck’s main concern was retaining the team’s structure and it worked.
Milligan’s sending off was clearly a mistake but the Socceroos carried on like he’d never left.
Sure there was a period where Japan were camped on the edge of the area, but they couldn’t break through and the Aussies spirit carried them all the way to a defensive mistake that delivered the penalty.
That equaliser was well deserved, as was the point earned.
In the days leading up to this game, some had painted a draw as a loss – but this was a big win for the Socceroos. They proved yet again they have what it takes in the biggest games.
As Tim Cahill said after the match, our players play in the biggest leagues in the world and at the highest standards. Why should we be surprised when they play so well in the green and gold? Why should we ever doubt our Socceroos?