By Ross Stapleton
In London overnight the Socceroos thrashed Jamaica with a 5-0 result that should put paid to any last vestige of regret that former coach Frank Farina wasn’t allowed to see out his contract.
But after the weekend’s World Cup qualifying results in South America failed to determine the
play-off picture, Australia’s final World Cup challenge against the fifth-placed South American team – either Colombia, Uruguay or Chile – won’t be known until Thursday.
At Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground, the new Guus Hiddink-coached Socceroos showed they have well and truly thrown off the unsophisticated tactical straight jacket of former Farina, to produce a sparkling brand of open but accountable football.
SBS pundit Craig Foster was absolutely right after the game to wax lyrical about the “organisation” and new-found flowing movement that’s being drilled into the Socceroos by Hiddink. Mark Viduka looks a completely different player under the new system, while there was a lot to like about the team’s fast one-two passing and deft flicks that were something to behold.
Equally pleasing, as Foster observed, was that instead of past goals being more based around speculative long distance strikes or individual brilliance – though that was certainly the case with Marco Bresciano spectacular opening goal – the others came from good build ups and
strong work in front of goal. Viduka was given plenty of support, by the likes of Archie Thompson and Jason Culina, in a man of the match effort playing wide. John Aloisi was also in the thick of it when he replaced Viduka in the second half and was stiff not to add a second goal at the death.
The canny Hiddink told SBS he wasn’t sure whether Jamaica was made to look ordinary because they were below strength or that the Socceroos strong performance made them look that way – although he did concede it was probably a bit of both. He also continues to be wary of our problematic defence, which Jamaica failed to punish on several occasions; noting the more talented South American opponent will not so generously fritter away such chances.