Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Olyroos primed for comfortable win

Matchday 4 Olympic Games qualifier preview, Lebanon vs Australia

GRAHAM Arnold has named a strong starting line-up for tomorrow morning’s (1am AEST) matchday 4 Olympic Games qualifier against Lebanon in Beirut, and it looks a fairly settled one, despite the change in formation from a 3-5-2 to a 4-2-3-1;

Vukovic; Zadkovich, Leijer, Milligan, Topor-Stanley; Ward, Musalik; Sarkies, Burns, Troisi; Bridge.

No Bruce Djite, out with an ankle injury, but in comes Newcastle’s James Troisi, who is reported to have looked the goods in the most recent phase of qualifiers. He is expected to start on the left side of a three man attack, with Mark Bridge through the centre and Kristian Sarkies shifted to the right after impressing on the left during the Newcastle and Gosford double header early last month, covered by TRBA.

It means there’s no room for Brondby’s David Williams in the starting 11, who’ll again have to be content with a cameo role.

“Sarkies just had to play”, said Arnold after the North Korea game in Newcastle. He was talking of course about his ability from the set piece, which was eventually the source of Australia’s opener.

Sarkies also forged a terrific understanding with Nikolai Topor-Stanley down the left, dropping infield whenever the Perth’s fullback marauded upfield, so it’ll be interesting to see how he combines with Ruben Zadkovich on the other side. Then latter often appears more inclined to make diagonal runs rather than straight ones, so that might require Sarkies to stay wide and open up the space.

If Sarkies ‘has to play’, the same can be said of Nathan Burns, who missed the Newcastle and Gosford games through suspension and injury respectively. Here he comes in for Billy Celeski, so impressive on matchdays 2 and 3.

Arnold, on route to Beirut after an eight-day camp at the Al Jazira in Abu Dhabi, commented that “I have Nathan Burns at the top of the diamond [he’s actually at the top of a triangle], with two working midfielders behind him. If anything it’s a more balanced side than what I had on the Central Coast.”

By that he means that Burns can exclusively focus on getting forwarding in support of Bridge, knowing he’ll be screened by Musalik and Ward, whereas in Newcastle and Gosford Celeski and Ward took turns in getting forward, and both had responsibility to get behind the ball.

Truth is that worked really well, but I can see what Arnold means. Burns is definitely a natural at breaking from midfield to link-up, support and get beyond the lone striker.

It does look a very strong unit, and should have too much strength, size and drive for the diminutive Lebanese, but as Arnold has cautioned, few away games in Asia are easy, and heads will need to be screwed on to get the job done.

Lebanon should have defender Mootazbellah El Junaidi back, but as their technical director noted, they are second best to Australia - “one of the best teams in Asia”- in terms of “speed, fitness and tactics”.

Speaking to members of the traveling Lebanese delegation after the 3-0 loss in Gosford, it was a similar message (“they are too strong”), so anything less than a comfortable Olyroos win will be a major shock.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

was arnie too confident?

all to do now..

Thu. Oct. 18, 05:11:00 pm AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

I'm not sure Arnie was too confident?? His comments pre-game appeared to be quite cautious.

I certainly was confident given what Lebanon dished up at home against Iraq and then the gulf in class I witnessed first hand in Gosford, but we've heard the saying before about foootball being a funny game.

I guess the good news is that Iraq could only draw in Pyongyang, so if we win our last two games, we're through.....destiny remains in our hands, but neither game will be easy.

No doubt we've got the tougher of the matchday 6 games, a trip to Pyongyang.

Thu. Oct. 18, 05:25:00 pm AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

...and the other thing to note of course is what happened Musalik?

Thu. Oct. 18, 05:36:00 pm AEST  

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