Australia’s stuttering Asian Cup defence came to an untimely end last week, the Socceroos crashing out in the quarterfinal stage at the hands of hosts UAE.
Graham Arnold’s first tournament back in charge of the national team was crippled by injury, inefficiency and dogged opposition, with Simon Hill this week joining Box2Box to conduct the post-mortem.
“The final third was something people knew before the tournament started (wasn’t good enough), and unfortunately, that’s the way it turned out. We haven’t quite got the quality at the moment”.
The Socceroos much discussed inability to score at last years World Cup dogged them again in The Emirates, something Hill believes comes down to a lack of Australian clubs.
“We don’t have an awful lot of strikers playing regular top level football, and that’s… a domestic issue, because we only have nine clubs”.
“Most of the A-League clubs have foreigners in those positions, so young Australians aren’t getting an awful lot of opportunity”.
The second problem, Hill believes, is a little harder to fix.
“We’re just not producing natural goal scorers. Our build up play is very methodical, and we lack game changers, instinctive players. How do we produce those players? I don’t know what the answer is”.
Hill also paid credit to the perceived minnows of Asia, such as the UAE, whose recent investment in the game paid significant dividends during the tournament.
“If you invest in your football, your players, your coaches, if you have a lot of clubs that give youngsters opportunities, and they get government and corporate support, it all helps”.