Monday, January 07, 2008

The Pim and I

I had a short discussion with Pim Verbeek while he was in Brisbane on Saturday. I wanted to push Sasa Ognenovski's case for Socceroo selection.

We also spoke about the need for Socceroos to play in the heat of Asia and, therefore, why Townsville's entry into the A-League is critical. Because our heat conditioning let us down badly in the Asia Cup, and some players will be able to play in hot weather and others will not - players need at least 3 A-League games per year where they can show their heat potential.

We also need to have a base of players who train and play their home in 35 to 50 degree heat and up to 100% humidity all the time. Townsville, and eventually Darwin, will give us that, some of that team can be the core of a Socceroo squad that will take us through the inhospitable conditions we will get in Asia. Pim has been through this with Korea, a place that is very cold in winter and very hot and humid in summer.


Roar 1 v Melbourne 2

I am hearing a lot about missed opportunities for the Roar. Actually, I didn't see many. I saw some great goalkeeping from Griffin McMaster. And I saw some refereeing that appeared to favour the away team. The research suggests that the home team should be most likely to win a match on a given day. A key part of this advantage is the tendency for refs to favour the home crowd. But this research isn't based on an 8 team competition with refs who have other jobs as their primary source of income (and are therefore not focused on training and their match day performance all week). The A-League's tender ecosystem seems to work in reverse - Central Coast have the best home record and they have only won 50% of their games at Bluetongue.

In world game terms, just under 22,000 is a reasonably sized crowd. Under these conditions, refs need to avoid mistakes that favour the away team. While the Roar played technically the best football for 90 minutes (Tahj again ripped apart Melbourne's defence, lack of experience at the back and parts of midfield particularly when Seo came off injured early - let us down).

A clear hand ball led to a penalty decision late in the game, early enough for Melbourne to open right up in a desperate bid to get back into the game - and therefore, for Roar to score again.

The Ref told the players that the match deciding hand ball was accidental and therefore not a penalty. However, the offender, Kevin Muscat, does not make this type of mistake, particularly in games his team must win. Unfortunately, as it has been pointed out elsewhere, not giving a penalty for an otherwise goal-bound hand ball isn't a judgement call, it is a technical mistake. In any case, it should have been penalty and the Roar's biggest crowd of the season - people the A-League needs to return to stay viable - went away feeling let down.

1 comment:

The Round Ball Analyst said...

John, I know you're keen to extend the virtues of Sash Ognenovski, but for me the reason he isn't in the reckoning is his distribution. Against Melb on the w-end, under pressure he proved how often he goes long...Pim, i sense, likes defenders to play out..

I'm a fan, reckon he's had a decent season, but dont think he's ready for the international stuff.

No doubt Pim felt right at home among the Orange up there?