Posts tagged ‘1974 World Cup’

Finding Her Identity

Last week’s result by the Socceroos securing a draw with World Champions Germany n Kaiserslautern was another feather in the cap of national team coach Ange Postecoglou. It was also a wonderful result on the back of the team’s Asian Cup victory.

Despite these successes there is something that Ange Postecoglou has managed to achieve that no other Socceroos coach has achieved, and for that the game should be eternally grateful.

Rale Rasic back in the Seventies awoke the nation with is team of part-timers making it to the World Cup in 1974 being one of just 16 teams that participated in the finals. It was almost a surreal experience according to those who remember it.

Guus Hiddink broke the jinx, and in truth had some luck in seeing the team qualify for Germany in 2006; in a penalty shoot-out the result can go anyway, unless you are playing Germany! Yet when the tournament started he showed his tactical acumen and managed to steer the team past the group stage, and almost past eventual Champions Italy.

Pim Verbeek achieved the remarkable steering the team to the 2010 finals conceding just a single goal against Japan in the final round of qualifying, with a team that was clearly on the wane. His mission was accomplished. He has suffered major criticism for the 4-0 defeat against Germany, yet the same team went on to beat England 4-1 and Argentina 4-0 before bowing out to Spain in the semi finals.

No one except the FFA and Holger Osieck will ever know what the total brief was at the time of his appointment. One key factor was another qualification for the World Cup which he achieved. He was criticised for not blooding enough young players, yet he achieved the task that he was set.

What all of these failed to do, that Postecoglou has managed to do in his short time as coach, was play a style of football that taps into the Australian psyche.

In the past week this writer has spoken to three people who confessed they never watched the Socceroos before ‘because they were boring.’ They still admitted they did not watch most of the game but they would tune in because the current team is ‘exciting to watch.’

There is no doubt that the Golden generation featuring the likes of Schwarzer, Viduka, Kewell, Bresciano, Grella, Neill and co, were technically more gifted than many of the current crop of players. There were also more of them playing football at a higher level than most of the current crop. Yet the team never managed to achieve what Postecoglou’s players have achieved.

Postecoglou is without doubt one of the best home grown coaches Australia has produced. Like many of the great coaches an injury curtailing his career – just as happened to Brian Clough – saw him enter management at a very young age. Success in the NSL was a regular achievement. When the A-league started he was coach of the national Youth team, which proved with hindsight to be a great learning experience. Back in club football in the new A-League with Brisbane Roar he again created a team that played attractive football and won championships. When he became national coach many wondered how he would fair and early results were not promising. Yet during those games a pattern was evolving.

A pattern that has seen Australia for the first time have a football team with an identity. By that we mean an identity in terms of the style of football that the national team plays.

Australian football under Frank Arok was again blessed with extremely talented players, many who were still forced to be semi-professional. The team was always combative, the team never ever gave up, but the style frequently changed depending on the opposition or the importance of the match.

It was the late Spurs and Northern Ireland captain Danny Blanchflower who once said “Our tactics have always been to equalize before the other team score.” It may sound crazy but one feels the sentiment is there in this Australian team.

Postecoglou has tapped into the Australian sporting Psyche, that Australians in every sport like to be the aggressor. Look at the Cricket team, the Wallabies, the Kookaburras, all are teams that are immediately on the front foot against their opposition. All of them like to take it up to the opposition and make them know that they are not in awe of them. Previous Socceroos coaches have focussed on trying to limit the scoring opportunities of the opposition and therefore tended to play very defensive football. It appears Postecoglou realises that currently Australia’s defensive stocks are not world class, and therefore the team is bound to concede against quality opposition. However rather than sit back and try and limit the damage, his teams go on the attack. The theory being that Australia will score more than their opponents. It is a style that has resonated with many Australians who have never followed the game, and he may well have finally given the nation a style that becomes synonymous with the Socceroos.

Japan knew they could never compete physically with the bigger European players, so they developed a fast paced game based on speed touch and fitness in order to be competitive and it has paid dividends to their national team and is now a style that is expected from their teams. They focussed on their strengths and improved their weaknesses.

Postecoglou has done exactly the same. He has tapped into Australia’s desire to be the team on the attack and a new style of football has evolved. A style that seems to have captured the public’s imagination. Hopefully is a style that can be maintained, and will just like Japan become synonymous with the Socceroos.

To quote the inspirational Danny Blanchflower again ” The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.” It would appear that Postecoglou shares those sentiments.

Blanchflower was a part of a Tottenham team that won the double and also steered Northern Ireland to the quarter finals of the 1958 World Cup in the same year he lost his brother Jackie in the Munich Air disaster. Spurs with him in the side played an attractive brand of football, a brand of football where they believed if the opposition scored one, they would score two.

It would appear the Socceroos under Postecoglou have the same sense of belief. It certainly appears that they have found a style that resonates with the people of Australia. Let us hope they continue to win fans over playing football in this manner and like Spurs and Northern Ireland with Blanchflower in their side are rewarded with success. Most of all let this be the style of football for which Australia is known.


March 30, 2015 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

Footballer’s Coming Home

Sport sometimes produces some truly bizarre situations. The latest which may be a pure publicity stunt for the European Championships is nothing if not a little macabre.

The remains of Polish Football Legend Kazimierz Deyna who died in a car crash in the United States in 1989 are reportedly being flown back to Poland in time for the kick off of the European Championships which are being hosted by his native Poland.

His remains will be re-buried in his homeland two days before the tournament gets under way. A monument to Deyna will also be unveiled on the same day in front of the stadium at Legia Warsaw for whom he played between 1966 -1978, before he transferred to Manchester City. He was playing in the North American Soccer League when he passed away.

Deyna won gold with Poland when they won the 1972 Olympic Games title and bronze at the 1974 World Cup. He is widely regarded in Poland as one of the country’s finest footballers. He also starred with Pele, Mike Summerbee, Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardiles, Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone in Escape to Victory.

June 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm 1 comment

Facelift or Facial for A League?

The Hyundai A league is we are told due for another facelift next season, which seems hard to believe when it is so young, but this is what happens when a code allows administrators from other codes to come in and run a game they know little about and have no passion for. However is something as drastic as a facelift a necessity?

The FFA Board are about to review the feedback that they have received from the stakeholders, and how they feel they can boost the appeal of the A League; once again a flawed approach. Too many of the A League License owners are not football fans and have bought into the league for reasons other than a love of the game. (We do however appreciate their support, but they too would have more joy with the right people running their clubs). They may be successful businessmen but what do they really know about football, the pride and the passion that has made it such a success worldwide.

Sadly in the last two years Football has slipped back to being a second tier sport in Australia and anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves. The growth of interest following qualification for the 2006 World Cup was never capitalized upon, and as stated previously the game did not learn from the mistakes made in 1974. The bonus was this time Australia backed that qualification up by making it to consecutive World Cups, but again the game did not capitalize on the interest or the achievement. With all the state bodies frantically producing their Annual reports it is worrying to hear that participation numbers in a World Cup year in some states are in fact down.

The World Cup bid gave the game the perfect chance to go out and talk to the masses, to take the game to the people that were joining the “Come Play” website and giving their wholehearted support, but again an opportunity was missed with 90% of all events linked to the bid being held in Sydney.

The meeting being held this week will discuss a later start to the A League season. There is merit in that as the start currently coincides with the AFL and NRL finals series. However if you had people who believed in the game, the product, and the brand that is the A league they would believe that with the right marketing you could still compete.

The biggest problem with the Hyundai A League is the lack of marketing. All of the FFA’s focus has been on the Socceroos and then the World Cup bid. The A league is the foundation on which those two are built and will need to be built in the future, so it is essential that the foundations are strong.

The game in Australia needs local heroes. Each club needs heroes that they can promote to the local community and the children in that community. Without heroes there are no players tomorrow.

This season has been an absolute disaster with the fixturing all over the place. At one stage some teams had played three more games than others, and the league table actually told you nothing as no one had played the same amount of games. How can fans get excited about that? The midweek games as well have created problems. Here in the West we often fail to see them with a three hour time difference. If we are to have midweek games link them to the round played that weekend, or have all teams play midweek split over Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday. Teams that play on the Friday play on the Tuesday, Saturday on the Wednesday and Sunday on the Thursday where possible.

Look at the travel component with the away fixtures, so that teams who are on the road for a week. Have them stay interstate, play Friday, Wednesday and Sunday to give them ample time to recover; which will ensure a better spectacle which in turn makes the game easier to market. It would save on airfares and you may even get keen fans travel with the team for a week.

Sort out the refereeing, as stated before on this site, “>Blowing the Whistle. The standard has not moved with the game and now is at an all time low. What makes it all the more hard to take is the fact that the Commentators with the tie in between Fox and the FFA are loathe to criticize. Yet these referees need that criticism in order to improve. As was stated by Mark Bosnich on Fox Sports FC we need to establish our style of football, and referee according to it. Despite the same rules the world over it is a known fact that Spanish referees interpret the rules differently from an Italian who interprets differently to an Englishman and so on. We need to cut out petty stoppages and bookings and let the game flow more. Try and keep the games eleven a side, which is what the spectators want to see.

The league does not need a major overhaul. It needs tinkering with, and most importantly a marketing budget put in place for the league as a whole, and the clubs to be aided with their individual marketing. The clubs similarly need to remember their target audience and not try and been too clever or for that matter cheesy in their promotions. No fan likes to be treated like an idiot.

The Hyundai A league needs input from the players, past and present, from people who know the game and have a passion for it. If you bring these parties to the table it will not need a facelift, just a facial. The sad thing is it has to regain the ground that has been lost if it is to climb up to being rightfully a first tier sport.

December 9, 2010 at 6:17 pm Leave a comment

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