Tut-Tut: Egyptians bury Aussies
Socceroos go down in Cairo
A fatigued and elderly Socceroos outfit failed to withstand the desert heat in Cairo falling to a 3-0 loss on Thursday against Egypt.
Coach Holger Osieck now has plenty to ponder with his ageing squad as he looks to January’s Asian Cup which will be staged in the blistering temperatures of Qatar.
There was plenty of excitement for Socceroos fans pre-match with the news that man-mountain Sasa Ognenovski would be given his first international cap.
On the basis of that performance he will be hoping he is given a chance for a second one.
But Ognenovski was far from Australia’s worst in an insipid display which lacked fluidity and energy.
Dario Vidosic and Tommy Oar were also conspicuous absences from a team that is severely lacking some youthful injection.
The match started brightly enough for the Socceroos with the lion’s share of possession and a few half chances falling their way and indeed the match could have turned out very different had Tim Cahill not spurned a guilt-edge chance on 25 minutes after being played in with a clever pass from Brett Holman.
It would only take three minutes for the Egyptians to answer back in the most emphatic fashion.
The Egyptians crafted an opportunity with some neat passing on the left edge of the box but were superbly denied by Lukie Wilkshire only for the ball to fall to Egyptian flyer Ahmed Abdul Zaher who smashed home to give the Egyptians the lead.
Shortly afterwards, Blackburn winger Brett Emerton was withdrawn for Richard Garcia with what appeared to be a minor hamstring strain.
Emerton’s hard running was sorely missed as the Egyptians began to direct one-way traffic.
The Pharaohs spurned a number of opportunities both before and after the break with Schwarzer required to be more alert than a tourist on the banks of the Nile.
However, the impressive Egyptians didn’t need to wait long to double their lead.
On 59 minutes, Ahmed El Mohamady and Gedo combined superbly down the right flank with the winger’s blistering speed too much for David Carney. He then whipped in a low cross and Lucas Neill’s lack of pace was again exposed as Mohamed Nagy beat him all ends up to tap in from close range.
The lack of Australia’s speed in defence was brutally exposed by the Egyptians and will be a serious concern for Osieck as he heads
to the Asian Cup where he will face an abundance of pacy strikers.
While Neill and Ognenovski were assured in the air, on the ground they were simply no match for the lively Egyptian strikers.
Only the continued presence of deep-lying midfielders Culina and Jedinak prevented Australia’s centre pairing from further embarrassment.
Australia’s night of misery was completed in the 89th minute when Neill was judged to have fouled Gedo in the area.
Although the contact was minimal, the referee was clearly desperate to see Egyptian hero Mohamed Zidan celebrate a goal and duly awarded the penalty. Zidan dispatched it with aplomb.
In solid Socceroos coach tradition, Osieck was quick to downplay the result saying post-match. “Basically we did not find our game, the way we wanted to play and some players, probably the travel, the short notice, the last players arrived 24 hours before the game.”
One wonders why they play these friendlies if they are of no benefit to Osieck or the players.
In any case, Osieck now has to make his decision on his Asian Cup squad and based on last night’s performance, he will have to make tough decisions to reinvigorated his inherited stale Socceroos.
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