Friday, September 08, 2006

A Tale of Sweat, Ignorance & Excuses

The Socceroos got their second taste of soccer, Asian Cup qualifier style. It would be unreasonable for anyone to imagine that the team could repeat the magnificent success of their World Cup campaign. Most of the big guns are playing for their clubs back in Europe. A full-time coach still has not been identified, let alone appointed. Given such haphazard atmosphere and preparation, I roundly applaud players like Mark Schwarzer and John Aloisi for making the journey to Kuwait.

From Aloisi’s comments in this article, it seems to have finally hit home that Asian soccer is not going to be the lackadaisical stroll in the park that the Australian public and many of the fringe players would have expected, especially after beating Japan in the World Cup. It is one thing to accept that your preparation was lacking and attitudes and processes need amending. However, it is a totally different matter to apportion blame for a poor performance to high temperatures, ground conditions and a lack of ambience as caretaker coach Graham Arnold has done:

"Look, some people will see this is a disaster. But I don't see it like that. The goal was to qualify for the Asian Cup, and we've done that. When you come to a stadium that's not full, the field's not the best, and it's stinking hot…”

These players are all professionals capable of and used to playing under different temperatures and ground conditions. Why is it that Australian teams from any sport (except cricket, that too only recently) always blame poor conditions when losing to an Asian team, in Asia? Football Australia would have known and agreed to the prevailing ground conditions before agreeing to play the match. If the conditions really were such an obstacle, they should not have agreed to play in the first place.

I can guarantee that Kuwait soccer has a bank balance far greater than Football Australia could call upon and that they would have put every last dirham into ensuring that conditions were up to international standards. It is about time Graham Arnold and all like him, started appreciating the fact that somebody has the knowledge and determination to grow a patch of green in the middle of a desert, so they can spread the excitement and glory generated by the game of football.

Time to take care of your own back yard first gentlemen.

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