Leading into opening round of the World Cup, Guus’s men can be
well pleased with the 1-1 result, coming courtesy of a Tim Cahill goal (from another
missed Mark Viduka penalty) in the 52nd minute. A 3-0 win would have been
better, but a dogged draw is a better result against the world’s third ranked
team than many expected.

In a compliment to the Socceroos, Holland began the
match at full strength, but after a “physical”, “bad-tempered”, “punishing” and
“bruising” match, Dutch coach Marco van Basten said his team’s dressing room looked more like “an episode of M.A.S.H.”

Giovanni Van Brockhurst
was tackled roughly by Luke Wilkshire, who earned himself a red card for his
efforts. Wesley Sneijder suffered what appeared to be
an ankle injury, and Philip Cocu went down with a thigh strain.

The injuries couldn’t
have come at a worse time for Holland, with van Basten already concerned over the availability
of midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, who re-injured his
ankle in training last week.

Van Basten still managed to put a positive
spin on the outcome: “… I don’t regret the match because it is good to play
physical football. Generally we played well and created a lot of chances but a
match like this gets difficult when you fail to convert them.”

Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer can
take much of the credit for Holland’s poor conversion rate, saving shots with both his hands and feet.
Hiddink has created a strong rivalry between Schwarzer and second-choice keeper
Zeljko Kalac, with Kalac publicly questioning Schwarzer’s recent form last week. But last night
Schwarzer all but booked his spot as the Socceroos starting goalkeeper.

Just as he did after the win against Greece,
Hiddink has been typically cautious in his reaction. “The achievement gives us confidence, but there’s
nothing guaranteed (once the World Cup starts),” he said.

The Socceroos
line up against Liechtenstein on Wednesday, before their opening World Cup
match against Japan on June 12.

Peter Fray

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