‘The most important thing is results. There can be a lot of outside noise, ‘the team should be doing this, doing that.’ But football isn’t easy. Despite what everyone claims from the outside, when you’re out here and a professional footballer, taking on another team that’s trying to do everything they can to win the game, it’s not easy. We’ve found a way to get the job done, and that’s a skillset in itself’ – Socceroos captain Mat Ryan, post-Indonesia win.
The Socceroos enter Friday’s Asian Cup quarter-final against Korea Republic with the shutters up and siege mentality in full force, as debate continues over the effective but largely uninspiring football they’ve played to this point of the tournament.
The result of the 4-0 win over Indonesia was never threatened once Jackson Irvine’s deflected cross opened the scoring on twelve minutes, but deeper examination would find the underdogs top have enjoyed strong spells of possession for much of the first half, and that the scoreline was only beefed up after Craig Goodwin’s late introduction.
‘Thus far it’s frustrated me because I want to see good, attacking, classy football, but I do also want three points. I’ve been speaking with a couple of people and we’ve agreed there are seven games if you’re going to win this, so you can’t play at 100miles an hour the whole time’, former Socceroos captain Paul Wade told Box2Box.
‘Jackson Irvine’s goal, via a deflection… he took three touches from the moment he won the ball, to putting it in the net. But before that we’d played 32 passes, from halfway to ten yards closer to our goal, and [play like that] is the most frustrating thing.’
Graham Arnold is always quick to mention the depth he’s built within his squad, and has started each of Kusini Yengi and Bruno Fornaroli as sole striker in the two games since Mitch Duke’s hamstring injury. None of the trio have found the net at the tournament and with Duke fit again, it’s officially decision time at the selection table.
‘You’ll get mobility out of Duke, we all know that, whereas with Bruno you’ve got somebody who loves the ball into feet, and if I was the coach I’d play Fornaroli – but, I’d demand from everybody that they play that ball to him as soon as they can’, said Wade.
‘The amount of runs he made [against Indonesia] and didn’t get the ball! He’s one of the most gifted footballers in the squad, and we were messing around with in on the halfway line. Whatever it takes, give him the ball.’
Craig Goodwin is also back in the frame after shaking off his knee complaint with a goal and assist off the bench. If the Socceroos camp haven’t loved the discourse about how the side should best perform, then Arnold would want to nail the decision of how to best utilise he, Jordy Bos and Aziz Behich at the pointy end.
‘I think we’ve got a good stable of players who want to beat the man in front of them, have the engine to do it and get back, and Bos is one of those. There’s been all sorts of conjecture as to where he should play. I’m excited we’ve got another Mathew Leckie, another Brett Emerton, somebody with a reall keenness and energy, and the engine to do it.
‘Arnie hates the media, but he knows he’s got to do it and that’s why he comes across as so bland, it’s not him. When he gets all these so-called experts who haven’t kicked a ball in their lives telling him how to do his job, it’s very difficult to show any sort of enthusiasm.’