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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 23 June 2018
28 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 23 JUNE 2018 SPORT Socceroos face Peru after thrilling draw against not so great Danes Australia is still on the hunt for a spot in the knockout stages of the 2018 World Cup after the Socceroos produced their best performance in Russia with a spirited 1-1 draw against Denmark DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 9 771321 167062 PHOTO: SOCCEROOS FACEBOOK CON STAMACOSTAS After France beat Peru in their match early yesterday, the Socceroos must now defeat the South Americans in the final group game, and France must beat Denmark if they are to progress to the next stage. Poor play by the Australian defence on Thursday led to the opening goal by Denmark in the seventh minute with Christian Eriksen scoring with a powerful half-volley that flew past Mat Ryan. While the Danes looked the superior team early on, Australia equalised in the 37th minute via a penalty that was awarded by the VAR after a Danish defender handballed in the box. Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak showed nerves of steel to bring the game back to 1-1. But as the game went on the Socceroos outperformed their 12th-ranked opponent but could not take advantage of their attacking dominance with goals. Socceroo wonderkid Daniel Arzani, who replaced the ineffective Robbie Kruse, in the 71st minute was the inspiration for Australia's best passages of play. Despite some media and public pressure for Tim Cahill and Arzani to start the game Aus- tralian coach Bert Van Marwijk kept the same line-up that lost to France 2-1. Former Socceroos midfielder Peter Katholos was frustrated that his call for the talented youngster to play from the start fell on deaf ears. "I'm disappointed," he told Neos Kosmos. "We've been saying all along that the coach needs to play Arzani from the start but he won't listen. I'm sure he's realised now, after his 20-minute performance against Denmark, that if he [had] put him on from the start he would have won the game. "I also called for Dimi Petratos to play - these type of players with creativity who take players on and have shots at goal. “ He said he believed the team should have won the game, but the right attacking players were not on the field. Arzani’s first action for the Socceroos was a simple pass to Aaron Mooy, who smashed a rising drive from just outside the box that went inches over the bar. From then he took the game to Denmark, and almost won the match for Australia singlehandedly. In the 80th minute, Arzani produced a mazey run, then a one-two with Josh Risdon which was followed by some neat footwork but his dangerous cross into the box was missed by his Socceroo teammates. Arzani’s best chance to win the game came in the 89th minute when he cut in from the left, but his driving shot from his right foot was parried away by Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. The man who led Australia to their first ever World Cup in Germany 1974, Rale Rasic, praised Socceroos Tom Rogic and Mathew Leckie who also played starring role against the Danes. "I can tell you I have no criticism of any players in our team," he told Neos Kosmos. "I've always said Leckie is a super player and has such an incredible engine. Rogic, he's also a superb talent. The defence - you can't criticise them at all. We did everything well and we made Denmark in the second half look a very ordinary team. It was an absolutely phenomenal effort. Brilliant tactics and every player on the field performed. Superb coaching, superb." But while Katholos was hap- py with the Socceroos’ performances, he felt van Marwijk's was too conservative. "As a coach he's happy now with a draw but if I'm coaching I wouldn't be happy with that, we needed a win and now we need to win in the final game and have to rely on other results," he said. "Cahill should've come on in the last 15 minutes. We had 18 crosses into the box and we had no-one to put the ball away. People back the coach and he is doing the right things, but he's not doing the right thing with Arzani. Look at the confidence he gave the other players, he is an incredible talent, he should just let him rip, just let him go." It's been a dramatic rise for Arzani who's had just one season in the A-League with Melbourne City. Prior to that, he was let go by Sydney FC when he was with their youth team. Katholos has known the youngster since his formative years when he attended a Greek Orthodox school in Sydney with a current Greek Australian youth international he also mentored. "I've known about his ability since he was 12 or 13 years old," he said. "[Arzani] went to Saint Spiridon College with Panos Armenakas. He's a kid that always had great attacking instincts, he is skilful and he takes players on. They've tried to coach that out of him. He's had so much trouble with coaches because they wanted him to pass the ball and not hold on to the ball. "But this kid has natural ability to take players on with speed and create, this is what breaks down defences and this what we needed in the game." While Katholos is critical of some of van Marwijk's decisions, Rasic feels the Dutchman got his tactics at the World Cup spot on, especially regarding Arzani. "We are watching superb a commitment by the Australian Rasic: We can beat Peru team and phenomenal coaching by van Marwijk. Absolutely phenomenal," he says. "Arzani is very talented, very cocky. He has confidence in himself and you have to be big enough. I have heard some comments about van Marwijk, but he is very experienced with this kind of player who is only 19. His introduction into the game is to build up slowly and to grow his confidence and just taste of big time football. I think it's brilliant. Every decision he has made I just applaud him. It's brilliant coaching. He has transformed this team into a very competitive outfit." With Australia taking on Peru on Wednesday 27 June, who have nothing to play for after their defeat to France, Rasic feels that goals are a must against the South Americans. "If we could finish we would be on the top of the group, wouldn't we?" he says. "We can beat Peru, not comfortably but we can beat them. We are one of the better teams in the world in terms of recovery. But it depends on match between France and Denmark. Europeans play different when they play against each other. That game against Denmark is not certain. Australia needs only to win against Peru to overtake Denmark if Denmark loses to France." Not surprisingly, Katholos has only one instruction for van Marwijk ahead of Australia taking on Peru in their final group game. "Play Arzani and Dimi Petratos," he says. "It's like I said to you in a previous Neos Kosmos story, the Socceroos need more attacking players and also put Timmy Cahill on, give him 20 minutes, you never know." See full match report of the Denmark-Australia game on page 27.
16 June 2018
30 June 2018