Monday, June 12, 2006

Two unlikely suspects to take home the cup meet to extend their miracle, and at least one of them will succeed. Who is not easy to say, I think this one can go both ways.
Personally, I favor the Aussies, and not just because of the Dutch coach Guus Hiddink and his assistant Johan Neeskens. Although Guus, until recently, coached my home club PSV and Johan Neeskens is an all time Dutch star, my reason's are on a deeper personal level. In 1992, I spent a year backpacking in the land down under and I still cherish warm memories.
Japan opens fierce with an attack in the openings seconds, and a free kick from about 25 meters ends in a wall of Aussies.
Australia's first attack comes closer to a goal. The Australian striker sprints with the ball to the back line of Australia, he outplays the last defender, and from a difficult corner, left of the goal, he fires. The Japanese keeper has to dive, to save. The same Australian striker gets to fire again, this time he lobs the ball onto the net, the top of the net. The ball lands on top of the goal.
The game looks balanced, both teams creating chances.
In the 13th minute Australia passes the ball freely around the goal of Japan.
"A little bit a of disarray in the penalty box, for Japan," says the commentator. A shot follows, three feet over the target.
"Interesting game, up and down," says the commentator.
An easy steal from Australia in the 20th minute is evident how the game is tipping towards Australia. The game is moving closer to the Japanese goal.
"How deep Japan is defending here," says the commentator.
After half an hour of play, Japan, for the first time, executes a dangerous attack.
"A beautiful cutback," calls the commentator the move the Japanese striker makes to create a shot on goal, the shot goes a couple of feet wide.
A minute later Australia, with what I call ' a beautiful cutback' creates a shot for Australia on goal. For this one the Japanese keeper has to dive, to save.
Shortly after, Japan surprises with a lob, meant as a cross for a header, but it goes untouched. Untouched by strikers, defenders, the keeper, and the ball bounces into the goal.
"That should have been a foul," shouts the commentator. He is referring to some rough contact of Australia. The ref did not see it that way, or maybe he did not see it. Controversy or not, the goal stands.


The stands whistle and moan, the World cup has another drama.
Australia continues testing the Japanese keeper.
"They got to put it behind them now." says the commentator. It seams the players on the field heart him. Hiddink, the Dutch coach for Australia, on the other hand is arguing with a fifa official on the sidelines.
The attacks of Australia continue throughout the first half and the start of the second, and now and then The Japan tickles back with a counter. However, real World Cup drama starts at the 83rd minute.
The Australians warm up with a hard free kick, barely missing target. Then seconds later a far throw in, a scuffle in the box, and a swing of an Australian leg.


The commentator sees another penalty. The game continues, now furious from both sides.
"Guus Hidding maybe being the best manager of the world," says the commentator. And, as he said it, more magic.


Japan chokes, and Australia is not finished.


Three goals in the end phase of a game between two growing soccer nations. I am stumped and I lose my notes on the delivery of the ball into the net. But pictures say more than words, the World Cup dream is going down under.