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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 30 June 2018
28 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 30 JUNE 2018 SPORT Peru sinks Socceroos’ Russian ark Former coach Rale Rasic and ex-national team player Peter Katholos refl ect on where it all went wrong for Australia at the 2018 World Cup DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 9 771321 167062 CON STAMOCOSTAS After gallant and brave performances against France and Denmark – words that Socceroos fans are pained hearing – Australia exited Russia with a disappointing 2-0 loss to Peru. A narrow 1-0 loss against the French, followed by a 1-1 draw against the Danes saw the Socceroos head into their final group game needing to beat Peru, and relied on France defeating Denmark. Unfortunately, neither scenario eventuated; the Europeans played out a 0-0 draw and the Socceroos suffered a 2-0 loss to Peru. The performances in Russia and in the previous tournament in Brazil means Australia has failed to win a game at two consecutive World Cups. The point earned by the Socceroos at the 2018 World Cup matches their tally from the 1974 finals when Australia also had two losses and gained a draw with Chile. The man who coached Australia at that tournament in Germany, Rale Rasic, told Neos Kosmos the 2018 Socceroos relied too heavily on physicality in Russia. "I'm a strong believer in discipline but I'm also a strong believer in imagination, and we lacked imagination," he said. "We based everything on power, beef and force. You can't rely on free kicks and corners all the time. The difference between us and Peru is their absolutely beautiful technique, they also had three or four players challenging our players all the time. They were very compact and experienced. "Our best game was against Denmark because we competed and we were compact, but when you are too physical you end up running out of steam." Australia started their mustwin game against Peru cautiously and conceded the first goal in the 18th minute when a long ball was played out to Peru's captain Guerrero. The captain profitted from Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury misreading the ball and the striker crossed for winger Carrillo, who smashed home the volley from the edge of the box. Rasic says Peru's opener was an example of how Australia was outsmarted. "That volley on the right side was sensational," he said. "In many instances they played so many short passes into space and they were cunning. Then, when necessary, they played deadly long balls, so they were really versatile. "I still say our team has done quite well, but not well enough to qualify out of the group. Peru was very, very much underestimated by everybody. The coach Bert van Marwijk had a solid team, but is that team capable of winning by one or two more goals?" Former Socceroo Peter Katholos says van Marwijk's overuse of defensive tactics is to blame for Australia exiting the World Cup. "He got it all wrong because we needed to win that second match against Denmark, and if he did, a point against Peru would have been good I’m a strong believer in discipline but I’m also a strong believer in imagination, and we lacked imagination. - Rale Rasic enough," he told Neos Kosmos. "After that 1-1 against France, I thought he was a genius in the way he coached the side. But then I started to lose a bit of respect for him because he needed to make changes against Denmark and he didn't. Instead, he played the same defensive pattern as he did against France. "That is, when we had to go for the win, that's where you earn your stripes as a coach and personally I think he made errors and we didn't get the win. That's what cost us, and this is where we ended up – out of the tournament." Katholos is not the only former player who has been scathing of van Marwijk's tactics, with Robbie Slater and Craig Foster also taking aim at the Dutchman's defensive mindset in Russia. Just before the World Cup, the then Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou resigned after he was vociferously criticised for his attacking formation. Katholos feels the Socceroos could have benefitted from the Greek Australian's tactical methods in Russia. "Ange would've attacked in the second game, there is no doubt about that," he said. "He would've been cautious against France, but against Denmark he would've attacked the game and if he was coach we would have got to the second round. In the last World Cup, we played better under Ange; we attacked, we went forward, and we went at teams. If it wasn't for a few defenders being naive, we would've done a lot better in Brazil. "But unfortunately, here in Russia, we played a different style. That's the issue with van Marwijk, he is very defensive minded, very cautious. With him we sat back and wanted to catch teams on the break." Another major talking point from Australia's World Cup exit has been that recordbreaking Socceroos goal scorer Tim Cahill and rising star Daniel Arzani were used sparingly. Cahill only came on when Australia was down 2-0 against Peru, and Katholos is fuming at those choices. "I'm disappointed and I expected more," he said "Arzani should have been on from the start in the second game, he is a jack-in-the-box and he can create things out of nothing. I also feel sorry for some of the players that didn't get an opportunity to get a run like Dimi Petratos and Massimo Luongo who played so well before the World Cup but didn't get a game. "Performance-wise the team did really well and they tried their best. No-one is pointing fingers at anyone, but the coach persisted with the same players. I have copped criticism for signalling certain players, but I only want the best for the country. I want Australia to do well." But Rasic doesn't view Arzani and Cahill not playing as the reason for the Socceroos' exit. The former national team manager says Australian football has much deeper issues than who played in Russia. "This is what makes me an- gry," he exclaimed. "Arzani is a kid who has to be taught a lot of things. Peru has 25 Arzanis; these types of players can be found everyday playing in the street. "We are talking about Arzani, but we are not talking about Jimmy Patikas. We are not talking about the genius footballers that we have developed in this country like Ned Zelic, Paul Okon. Where is Mark Viduka, where is Harry Kewell, where is Mark Bresciano, where is Stan Lazaridis?” Rasic feels the current structure is not producing players of the same quality that came through during the era of the National Soccer League, including a number of Greek Australian internationals. "Where are the talented players coming through?" he asks. "Jim Patikas is worth 10 Arzanis! When he played in Greece he played with quality European stars and he was coached by one of the best coaches in the world. You also had Chris Kalantzis. Please tell me what the coaching structure in this country is like when Arzani is the only player on everybody's lips. Don't tell me the current Socceroos are equivalent to players like Stan Lazaridis. "When Tommy Docherty was coaching Sydney Olympic he had about eight players under 20 years of age who went on to play for Australia, and you didn't know which one of them was better than the other - that's how good they were. Jim Patikas, Chris Kalantzis, Peter Raskopoulos, Peter Katholos, Mark Koussas, my God, I could go on and on! "Where are these players today? That's what I am asking."
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