World Cup 2014 – Australia v Chile: I know what the Socceroos can do

Nothing ever goes the way you might expect.
Things rarely go the way you might hope.

But you still do those things as a sports fan because it’s in your heart …

… Hardwired like a ‘prime directive’, every sports fan who invests of themselves to watch their favourite player, or team go ’round “knows” certain things before they start watching.

There aren’t enough windows in the world for all those instances of knowledge to get flung out of, once we actually start watching. Like the infamous Professor Spooner’s eponymous ‘hags’, knowledge goes flying faster, further, more acrobatically … than even the most blatant of submariners at Brazil 2014.

While watching my third match of the session, with the matchsticks holding my eyes open long having been replaced by nervous fear, moaning disdain, cautious optimism then finally, a fiery pride that never left me until the final whistle, I found to my great pleasure that you actually can see things while watching sport. Things that help you know and more importantly, retain that knowledge.

The Soccerroos started nervously this morning in Cuiabá. Just past 10 minutes gone though, my stomach was just starting to settle back down from its new residence in my gullett. Then Chile gave me that special kind of heartburn, all sports fans know, when their teams’ mistakes start gifting scores to the opposition.

Funny that. And apropos as well.

Minutes 12-14 inclusive were torture. Hot coals raked over open wounds, because our boys were looking like deer in headlights. Fire-Ants in the marrow because it was our mistakes as much as anything, that created Chile’s chances for them.

And they took them, once & again, for a 2-0 lead after 14 minutes. After Spain’s humbling 5-1 capitulation in the rematch of the last World Cup Final, to open our group, fears and memories of ‘bagels’ were buzzing like mosquitoes the size of goannas, in my head.

Spewing invective with every ounce of acid I could muster, I asked myself why I was putting my fragile sanity through this again. I was also serving choice portions of the foulest abuse I could conceive, at anyone my flitting radar could lock-on to, as they were beamed into my lounge-room through the TV.

Then things started happening that opened up the ‘window knowledge passes through’ in the other direction. I saw, then learned, then knew some things. Things that gave me peace. And the ability to take the measure of our Soccerroos, and what Ange Postecoglou has started to create with them.

Then I stopped caring what the score was, coz while my heart was back in my mouth, our boys’ hearts didn’t shrink like peas off to be canned. There they were, proudly wearing them on their sleeves as the Soccerroos’ team collective pulsed, then started pumping, before settling into that throaty V8 growl you can usually only hear as they’re hitting top-speed down Conrod Straight on Mount Panorama.

I’m SURE! Absolutely positive every Aussie watching couldn’t help but echo that guttural growl with pride …
… When our boys started holding the ball. When Franjic, Leckie and Oar started running at their opponents, creating space, shrewdly switching play … Inside then out. Near side then far. Dive in with the shoulder, make them think you’re gonna charge, then coolly settle and put it on Timmy’s noggin’.

CAAAAHILLLLLLLL!

Can everybody hear me growling?

WUUUURRRRRRRRRRGH!

And we never stopped playing proper football from there. That is the measure of what Ange Postecoglou does as a coach. That is the true measure of what his teams do.

Yes we made another mistake at the death to bookend the root cause of the final result. But from when we started ‘Playing’, until the final whistle blew, I started knowing what our Soccerroos could DO.

I know there is no greater pleasure than watching Tim Cahill rise; hang; make his markers and the goalkeeper know fear; then fire the ball off his forehead like a guided missile – destination ‘Auld Onion Bag’.

I know what a joy it is to see Marco Bresciano bisect angles and moments with algebraic acumen even Stephen Hawking would have trouble quantifying.

I know I can see the future of Australian Football, every time Matthew Leckie gets the ball and hurtles down the right, up the middle … Anywhere he damn well pleases coz his opponents are too afraid to mark him tight, lest he blow by them like Godzilla used to on ‘The Mountain’, before the ‘pack of arseholes’ booed Jim Richards onto and off the podium.

I know that Ange Postecoglou won’t let our boys forget what they can do, if they believe in the football he is teaching them to authentically play.

As for what comes next. A rampant Holland? A desperate Spain? I don’t care. Who knows? The Dutch might have their swelled-heads so far up their own arses, after their magnificent start, we could DO something about that. It wouldn’t be the first time a collective of egos including Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder, et al, has imploded under the weight of their own hubris.

The Spaniards’ depression might be as deep as their economy, by the time we get to them. We could grow into the moment and put them out of their misery. Bail them out of Brazil so to speak.

Fanciful?

You know what, I don’t care.

That’s because after this morning, now I know I can ‘growl’ when I watch the Soccerroos play.

WUUUURRRRRRRRRRGH Australia!

Say it with me!

Comments

  1. Great summary Gregor. I had no expectations as I sat on the sofa this morning. More fear than hope.
    The Chileans were clean and crisp early, while we looked nervous and gave it away too easily in the pressure of the moment.
    But after the first 20 minutes we easily held on own in terms of possession and chances. The boys seem to swallow hard and think “lets stop worrying about what they can do, and show what we can do.”
    Like you, I spontaneously let out a roar and pumped by fist with Cahill’s header goal from Franjic’s pinpoint cross.
    Without being jingoistic there was a real Gallipoli/Tobruk backs to the wall passion to the last 70 minutes. Leckie stood out, for his pace, aggression and willingness to take the game on. Davidson and Spiranovic were defiant and solid at the back after early nerves. Cahill and Bresciano showed their class and spirit.
    It was one of the most enjoyable losses I have watched in any sport. Something that Ange and the young Socceroos should be immensely proud of.
    The Dutch clinical dismantling of the Spanish was scary. How do you contain the pace and skill of Van Persie and Robben?
    So long as we keep having a go, and don’t retreat into a defensive shell, I don’t care about the scoreline in the next 2 games.
    The young players will cram 2 years of development into a month, and hopefully will be rewarded with contracts in the big European Leagues for their efforts.
    The management of FIFA may be a scam and a farce, but the managers and players are showcasing the beautiful game, when AFL is determined to descend into rugby ugliness.
    Well played Ange, Socceroos, soccer and Gregor.

  2. Skip of Skipton says

    Pity it took being 2-0 down for the boys to switch on. They played surprisingly well after that.

  3. Peter Schumacher says

    I was viewing this game in Toronto with my son, a fantastic pleasure for me btw, first time in years. After the initial horror I was so proud of our team, I couldn’t believe how often players nameless to me kept turning their opponents inside out. A mighty roar (of disappointment) when the second “goal” wasn’t. And Bresciano’s attempt was so close.

  4. Dennis Gedling says

    Great stuff Gregor. By the time it was time for the game this morning I had become a snarling beast on no sleep and the previous game showing anything was possible. To get ourselves together and almost come back 2-0 from down shows how great Ange and these lads will be.

    Ryan had a bit of a mare at times but his distribution to guys like Leckie was second to none. In the breach once more on Wednesday night my friends.

  5. Skip of Skipton says

    Ivan Franjic might get a bigger offer than Brisbane Roar can cope with in the next week or two.
    Same with Matthew Leckie. Those two blokes were awesome.

  6. Gregor Lewis says

    Thanks for the kind words lads.

    It was well worth the effort eh?

    Chest swelling authentic pride in knowing our boys were not just having a go, but playing football.

    Peter_B, I can only say this … When we are truly made mindful of one thing, by the authentic actions of others, I genuinely don’t see it is jingoism.

    I don’t think that is something we should be wary of, in celebrating such an eventually authentic and unalloyed display of football from our boys … In every aspect.

    When we went down in a tackle, we roared back up, instead of clutching, whining, moaning and ‘tactically striving’.

    When Franjic stayed down, then got treatment, it was because he was genuinely hurt, not buying time.

    When Leckie was desperately enlisting teammates’ help to release him from the pit-bull’s lock-jaw of cramp around his calves, it was because he’d run himself deep into the sedimentary layer, in the hot & humid Cuiabá night, to create chances and give those watching hope & pride.

    I don’t subscribe to the ‘sport as a metaphor for war’ analogies. But I can definitely understand how an authentic display of one thing, can make you mindful of the sacrifice of others.

    Not because they are commensurate, but because what you’re seeing is making you reach deep inside yourself, for something you can relate it to. Something just as authentic, even when it can’t be the same.

    We played with full hearts this morning. Come Wednesday and every match-day after that … Let’s do it again!

    grl

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Gregor. Wonderful fightback by the Socceroos after being smashed early. Tim Cahill a superstar. Hope they keep doing us proud against the Dutch and Spain.

  8. David Zampatti says

    Oh. It’s started, has it?

  9. “The Beautiful Game” is a foreign concept to Dockers supporters. Whatever the code.

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