WHILE no one ever expected Australia to match Brazil for technical ability, a trio of Socceroos legends are dismayed that one of the hallmarks of Australian football is seriously lacking in today’s game.
Fox Sports pundits Mark Bosnich, Robbie Slater and Brisbane Roar boss John Aloisi agreed – after watching the Socceroos get dismantled 4-0 at the MCG – that the loss of physical prowess in the modern Australian vintage is hard to cop and hurting the side’s international competitiveness.
The MCG match, before Australia faces Germany, Chile and Cameroon was a brutal reality check, also prompting Bosnich to question the continued rhetoric from the side’s players and staff that they can take on the world’s best.
Bosnich said: “(The game unravelling) coincides with this: you’re playing a team two-three classes above you. When they want to play like that they’re going to create chances.
“Without Mitch Langerak, it could have been seven or eight (to nil).
“They should just be happy it is 4-0…
“You talk about ‘that’s not what Ange expects’, well, I think it’s time he dimmed his expectations quite some bit.”
Slater said that the Brazilians’ desire and ability to win the battles over the park was eye-catching – as much as the Samba brilliance you come to expect from a team boasting a player with the pedigree of Philippe Coutinho.
“I didn’t find it good, I found it quite hard to watch at times,” he bemoaned.
“There were times we were chasing shadows.
ANGE POSTECOGLOU REACTION: “Go hard, it doesn’t effect me.”
PLAYER RATINGS: How Australia fared against the world No.1
“They were unbelievable … credit to them (what it means to wear the Brazilian shirt).”
He added: “It doesn’t matter what team you are, look how quickly they get the ball back – the way they get it back and close you down is incredible.”
On the ability to maintain that intensity, Aloisi said: “Athletically, they were vastly superior to us.
“We talk about technically. (But) when Willian breaks, you aren’t catching that.
“We just don’t have that.
“When you look player for player, they just have players playing at the top level. Our players aren’t. We can talk about tactics, structures, their players are much better than ours at the moment.”
On the focus being taken away from the robust attributes in the national side, he explained: “It’s a really good question – it’s something out of the curriculum we went away from … I’m not saying we have to pick just athletes.
“We’ve got a very small pool; the Brazilians have a bigger pool. The ones that come through usually aren’t just technically good, they’re athletes.
“The athletes we’ve got coming through usually go to other codes … we haven’t got as many in our game.
“We focus on the technical side, because we felt we were so far behind …”
Slater interjected: “Or did other people come to this country and feel that?”
When Aloisi answered – “other people did” – Slater concluded: “We took away one of our attributes – ever since I played the game, our physical prowess. Improve the other side of it, but don’t take away what we’re good at.”
Bosnich added: “We’ve seen it (also) at the young boys level.”
Despite the expectations that Brazil would win, Aloisi admitted he found the second-half difficult to watch, and revealed the challenge fellow coach Postecoglou now faces over the coming month.
Aloisi said: “That second-half could’ve been anything … the boys will feel down, Ange will be livid, we were torn to pieces in the second-half.
“As a leader, he has to pick them up now because we have an important tournament to go to and we don’t want this to happen at this tournament.
“We want to go there and at least compete.”