Saturday, October 06, 2007

Frankly, what have you been waiting for?

A-League round 7 match analysis, QR 2 v WP 1

SEVEN rounds, a third of the way into the season, and finally Frank Farina takes the hint and gives youth its chance, and what an almighty response from the two left-footed pocket-rockets, Michael Zullo and Robbie Kruse.

Giving them both their full debuts, Farina finally lost patience with the likes of Simon Lynch, and not before time. Helping make up the manager’s mind was the fact Ante Milicic is out injured.

So Farina went to a front three, with the hard-working Brazilian Reinaldo through the middle, supported by Zullo down the left and Kruse down the right.

Suddenly the Roar had a bit of mystique and excitement about them, and sure enough the space and goals followed. After an impressive showing off the bench last week in Melbourne, Zullo was particularly brilliant, getting the ball as his feet, dropping the shoulder and zipping past Jeremy Christie, both outside and in.

The fact he was able to grab an early goal helped settle everyone’s nerves – players, coach and fans – and what a goal it was. When Reinaldo competed aerially from a long throw, it fell to the edge of the box for Zullo to volley spectacularly into the top corner.

Soon the ball was at the feet of birthday boy Kruse, one of Australia’s better players (I remember him catching the eye along with Kaz Patafta and Nathan Burns) in a disappointing under 17s world cup campaign in Peru a couple of years. Shaping to hold the ball up, he skinned two Wellington players with a wonderful Cruyff turn, before shaping a smashing left-foot drive just a few centimetres too high.

Soon he was also on the scoresheet. When Reinaldo competed aerially once again from a long Liam Reddy drop-punt, it fell to the feet of Zullo on the left. Finding time and space, he shaped a ball towards the penalty spot, where both Matt McKay and Kruse were waiting to pounce. It evaded McKay, but Kruse powered home the header.

A goal a piece to the two debutants, 2-0 up, at home, it could hardly have been better for the Roar and Farina. Perhaps a Reinaldo goal?

No doubt he had his chances, particularly when Zullo skipped past Christie and squared it up to him, with an open goal at his mercy, but even then, the verbal barrage from commentator Robbie Slater was a touch harsh.

No mention was made of the fact that both goals came from Reinaldo competed in the air and drawing the attentions of Wellington’s central defenders, Karl Dodd and Steven O’dor, opening up the space for Zullo and Kruse to pounce.

For the first goal, both Dodd and O’dor challenged the Brazilian, meaning there had to be space elsewhere. For the second, it was Dodd challenging again, opening up some space for Kruse to attack.

While both Zullo and Kruse probably slipped under the raider and were afforded plenty of space, soon the heat will be applied.

For example, Zullo was rarely double-teamed when he had the ball, allowing him to go one-on-one with Christie. Compare that the Phoenix’s technical wizard, Felipe, who was double and triple-teamed every time he went near the ball, and chopped down before getting into stride.

That same heat will soon be applied to the Roar’s two kids, and like Bruce Djite and Nathan Burns, they will need to prove they can handle it.

But for now, it’s just great to see a couple of fresh-faced kids burst onto the A-League scene, proving that these kids are often good enough, and provide a surprise element, if given the chance.


Blogger Hamish said...

Excellent rap mate. Agree with every word.

Sat. Oct. 06, 11:53:00 am AEST  
Anonymous wayne said...

I too am really pleased by the result and the "lesson", but consider that Farina got these young guys in the off season, then had to wait till round 7 and second last place before giving them a go is a far too familiar story. I think the managerial conservatism in the league may be due, ironically, to the short season - there is no time to give the untried a chance for a few weeks, as two games may mean going from second to second last sometimes in such a tight field.

Sat. Oct. 06, 11:59:00 am AEST  
Anonymous Ed Vegas said...

Sure reinaldo wins nearly everything he goes for in the air, but seriously, last night he fluffed absolutely everything he tried with his feet.

I dont know what Slater said, but I'm sure it was mild compared to what was comming out of my mouth at the game last night.

Oh well, you got to love his effort.

Sat. Oct. 06, 12:58:00 pm AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Herbert seemed surprised that Frank hasnt started Zullo earlier

"Christ, I'd be playing that player every week.

"He's a young boy who could be real excitement machine in the A-League. It's fantastic to see."

Sat. Oct. 06, 01:50:00 pm AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you hear Farina's post match interview after the game he played down suggestions that the two new boys should have been in from the start of the season. You can't blame the short season beacuse coaches aren''t taking risks, you can only bame the coaches for not having the guts to play these young boys. If these boys don't get game time they leave for overseas. Vidosic is a good example. That Cryuff move by Kruse was sublime.

Sat. Oct. 06, 02:44:00 pm AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the a league has been criticised alot this year for the quality of play etc...fairly so as well in my opinion

but watching zullo last night...and burns and djite last week. reminds me of why i tune in every week!

Sat. Oct. 06, 03:27:00 pm AEST  

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