Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Football, Soccer, round ball, 10 men ... you know the drill.

I don't know why I didn't stay up to watch Australia play Japan last night. I guess I have tried to ignore the fact that the Socceroos qualified really. Ian and I only just scraped through the Ashes series with our marriage intact, then the flamin' Socceroos go and qualify. Ending up in the same group as England, I suspect, would have signalled the death knell!

So I watched England play Paraguay in a pretty bland match over the weekend. I had not even made a note of when Australia's first game was. Surprised? I was. Not as much as Ian last night when I said I was going to bed just as the Australian anthem was being sung by thousands of Australians in that stadium in Kaiserslautern.

I admit I popped out when I heard Ian shout after Japan's first goal. He said Mark Schwarzer (goalkeeper) got clattered by 2 Japan defenders. I figured that was pretty much it for the brave Socceroos and went to bed to read.

When Ian climbed into bed just after 1am I asked him how much we'd lost by. He replied that we had actually won 3-1! I nearly fell out of bed.

I can hear people in the office effusing about how amazing the win was. Something about Australian's that irks me - win or die - I find that side of our nation's make-up hard to take. Especially when I see that in myself but that is a whole other post.

I won't go on about it. Really. What I wanted to do was post a few differing views, shall we say, on the game, certain aspects of it and the outcome. Just to set the scene... As I mentioned above, Ian's view of Japan's first goal was that our goalkeep, Schwarzer, was impeded in his defence by 2 Japanese players. When I read The Age this morning, it reported pretty much the same;

Socceroo goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer says the referee apologised for a dreadful blunder that cost Australia a goal against Japan and for 74 minutes looked like derailing Australia's World Cup campaign.

Egyptian whistleman Essam Abd El Fatah spoke to both goalie Mark Schwarzer and captain Mark Viduka for getting it horribly wrong, and thanked God his howler did not decide the match.

The episode had a happy ending, with Australia winning its opening World Cup match 3-1 after a rousing finish in Kaiserslautern, and the Aussies praising the referee's honesty.

But the error could so easily have torpedoed Australia's 2006 campaign, and certainly looked like doing so with just minutes left on the clock and Australia trailing 1-0.

The referee's booboo came midway through the first half when Japanese playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura floated over a cross from the right wing.

As Schwarzer rose to collect it, he was barrelled by not one but two attackers - Atsushi Yanagisawa and Naohiro Takahara - and the ball lobbed into the net untouched.

Schwarzer looked dumbfounded as he sat on the turf and the referee signalled a goal.


I always like reading what the British newspapers write about things like this, just to get another perspective. So I hopped over to The Guardian;

Or rather, they punished themselves. Shunsuke Nakamura lofted a floating ball into the area, where Schwarzer tried to push the Japanese frontline out of the way and succeeded only in knocking himself off balance. The ball dropped into the net above his shaking head.

Now I do not know who Georgina Turner is but if you read the whole article, she seems to have a rather big chip on her shoulder.

The BBC website reported this;

Japan took the lead when Socceroos keeper Mark Schwarzer appeared to be impeded as Shunsuke Nakamura's intended cross sailed over his head.

As with most BBC coverage is spelled out the facts and left the lily un-gilded.

And finally, The Times reporter was a little more passionate!

26mins GOAL! Nakamura dinks in the most unlikely of goals from nothing more than a cross. Schwarzer comes for a regulation catch but is shoved out of the way by Yanagisawa, who has himself been pushed by Moore. The ball sails over everybody and into the empty net.

I skimmed the Guardian's minute-by-minute report as I thought it may have been written by the the inimitable, Georgina Turner however it seems an even more bitter and twisted Barry Glendenning trotted out every cliche about Australians / Earls Court and bar work without an ounce of flair or humour.

My brother just called, yelling down the phone, I'm Aussie till I die, I'm Aussie till I die ad nauseum. He can't believe I didn't stay up to watch the game. How do I explain that after watching England play in every international since 2000 has meant I know every England player's name, rank and serial number? How do I explain that I am more interested in Rooney's foot than I am Kewell's groin? How do I paint a picture of my life in England in colours other than red and white?

All those questions remain unanswered. The only pertinent question remaining however is ... What in God's name do I do if England and Australia both qualify in the group stage!?

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