But not for us ( I hope). For them. The Socceroos. Or maybe: The Suckeroos, hahahaha.
They love their expressions in Australia. No worries mate! She’ll be right mate! Well, if Robin, Robben, Daley, Wesley, Bruno and Jasper have anything to say about it, it will be “She won’t be right!”.
Australia however, is pretty confident. They are always quite confident, simply because they know how to fight. They’re battlers. They love being the underdog. And they will never give up. That is in their DNA and they most likely will not be impressed with our stars.
After being courted into the game of football (soccer here) by none other than Guus Hiddink, the Socceroos take their sports seriously. They had mixed results at the World Cup, with 2006 seeing them screwed out of the competition by the “Italian cheating bastards”. Hiddink was succeeded by Pim Verbeek who didn’t make a lot of friends in Australia and some assistant coach from Germany took over for a while but he had all the flair and charisma of a garden hose, so they replaced him and finally had the guts to appoint an Australian coach. With an Australian name. Ange Postecoglou.
But the round chested former A-League club coach has that same quality Hiddink has. Doesn’t fear no one. And with the same starting eleven as the team that did so well against Chile (bar two forced changes), the Aussie manager is focusing on delivering a big upset to the World Cup, and the Dutch in particular. “The score we ended up with vs Chile doesn’t tell the whole story. We actually did well.”. Poste needs to replace injured Ivan Franjic who traveled back to OZ with a hamstring and Mark Milligan. James Holland – formerly of AZ and Sparta – might be his replacement. Heracles defender Davidson and Utrecht forward Tommy Oar will most likely start.
Postecoglou: “It’s a massive challenge for us to play Holland. They have so much quality and such a pedigree, but our team will grow as a result and we play good in big games.” The former Melbourne coach had to refresh the team and had to say goodbye to stallwarts like Lucas Neill, goalie Schwarzer and Harry Kewell. Tall striker Josh Kennedy got injured right before the World Cup so the Ozzies will filed a team, partly, of youngsters. Not unlike Holland. “And there is much at stake. If Holland wins, they will be placed and we can travel home. It’s a big game!”
And their star player, Tim Cahill of Everton fame, also is the man leading the line (like we have).
It seems like the Ozzie support will outshine the Dutch legion. Australia is the third nation in terms of supporters on the ground in Brazil, after Brazil (sic) and the USA with close to 20,000 people traveling to Brazil. In comparison, there are only 5,000 Dutch fans in South America.
Postecoglou: “I dropped my jaw when I saw Holland butcher Spain. I knew it would be at least tight between the two nations, but I rated Spain higher. But Holland was impressive at times. Still, I think we have a chance.” The Football Director of the Aussie Federation is none other than former Dutch coach Han Berger, who is in his final weeks now of his job. “This nation loves rugby more than anything. There are three different rugby variations. And they play football like they play rugby. In a fast pace move the ball forward and use physical strength and guts to push for a goal. This is not how you play football so we have started a whole new development process. But it will take a generation for that succeed.”
Which is why Ange has been given the task to refresh the “Hiddink generation” and bring new young players. This World Cup will be a learning curve tournament for them. Nigel de Jong is impressed with them. “I know Tim Cahill well. We played against each other a lot and I will meet him on the pitch again for sure. He is tough as nails and will not complain when you play manly. He loves it. He has a super mentality and is a tremendous header of the ball. With him, anything can happen. I rate him very high.” Australia lost 3-1 against Chile but as the coach said, the scoreboard didn’t tell the whole story. “We were close to 2-2 all the time in the second half, but we needed to play more compact and smarter. Big lessons to learn.”
Wes Sneijder expects a tough game against the Socceroos. “I understand the whole nation is euphoric and that is fine and dandy, but Australia is a tough nut to crack. We never beat them. That should tell you something. We are not with our head in the clouds. We won against Spain, but that merely gives us three points and a good goal difference. That is all.”
Robin van Persie, Oranje skipper, didn’t want to speak to the press. “Superstition,” he said. “I am sorry. But before the Spain game and didn’t do media and I got two goals. I hope to do the same tomorrow!”
There were some rumours that Van Gaal wanted to go with 4-3-3 against Australia and that Lens would come in for Vlaar. But the latest news is that Van Gaal will allow the same players to start, and he will play a 5-3-2 / 3-5-2 against the Aussies. Van Gaal didn’t want to say anything during the last press conference about. “I can play both 4-3-3 and 5-3-2 with these lads. And in both systems, we can play according to the Dutch School.” Van Gaal also commented on the new philosophy in which he allows the families in the hotel every now and then. “I want to treat these lads as grown ups. I don’t want to take them from their families for weeks and have them send skype videos to their loved ones. I believe the lads feel better if they get to see their families regularly. And when they do feel better, they play better.”
Van Gaal had an interesting comment to make about the venue of tonights game. “The dug out is literally dug out. I sit under the ground. I can hardly see anything due to this big tv camera in front of me. And I am not a coach who enjoys to stand along side the touchline. I want to sit and talk with my assistants. I asked them to fix it. I hope they have.”
Van Gaal was impressed with the response of the players after Spain. “As a coach, you sometimes need to keep the players grounded. But after the Spain game, it was the older players who did it. They immediately warned the young lads that this was merely the start. Nice, but merely three points. That makes my life easier, to have players with that mentality.” Wesley Sneijder: “You notice in the group that we’re away. The first game is always tense. And no one knows exactly what to expect. Now, Australia is forewarned. The whole world has seen how we play. It will be harder now, against Australia, I think.”
Van Gaal: “Australia has to come and get something. They’ll attack. I know their coach and he is a good coach, with balls. The Australians will never roll over and lay down so we have a battle on our hands, I’m sure.”