Socceroos Robbed By Diving Azzurri’s!

June 27, 2006

“ROBBED! Dirty diving Italians…”, I smsed to a few of my friends this morning (my wife is Italian so there was no racism intended in my remarks). I was of course mentioning Australia’s loss to Italy at the 2006 World Cup, due to a dubious referee decision, in the 92nd minute of their Round of 16 encounter. What a shattering way to be bundled out!

Australia had played especially well in the first half, applying great pressure to the Italian backs but not able to convert. Mark Schwarzer was playing great for Australia, having already saved a number of shots on goal by the Azzurri. Italy also had some beautiful attempts on goal with Luca Toni looking particularly dangerous with his control of the ball in the air and the ground superb:

Photo: AFP

The 2nd half started and in the 50th minute Italy lost Marco Materazzi to a red card for a challenge on Australian Marco Bresciano – on replay it appeared that Materazzi had actually tripped up another Italian player but off the field he was sent. I’m no believer in karma but fate would have it that this incorrect decision would be evened before the end of the game.

For the next 43+ minutes, Australia tried to penetrate Italy’s defensive line but just couldn’t find a way in or if they did get in, couldn’t execute a kick/header to score that elusive goal. With only 10 men on the pitch, Italy did well in their half and relied on a counter attacking game for offence – this lead to several advances into Australia’s box but the defenders managed to stop all attempts.

Then disaster struck. 3 minutes into injury time and 8 seconds from the end of the game, Fabio Grosso broke into the Australian box by getting around Bresciano. Lucas Neill came forward and tackled Grosso who flung himself to the ground, in a deliberate dive, after making contact to Neill’s body with his left foot:

Photo: AP

Referee Luis Medina Cantalejo signalled a penalty kick and Francesco Totti slotted the ball past Schwarzer with ease:

Photo: Getty Images

And thus ended Australia’s gallant efforts, in spectacular circumstances, at the 2006 World Cup. No doubt, it shouldn’t have been a penalty kick but Australia shouldn’t have let itself get in to that situation – their defence had started to lighten up as their went all out for victory in normal time.

Still, at the end of the day, Australia should be proud to have been in the Round of 16 and can hold its head up high to have kept Italy 0-0 for 90+ minutes of the game. Well done Socceroos, well done!

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Australian Socceroos Through To Round Of 16!

June 23, 2006

Another great game of football! Full of passion, intensity, suspense, twists and plenty of yellow cards, with a few reds thrown in for good measure too. This was the game that Australia either needed to win, if Japan beat Brazil and beat them well, or draw with Croatia to go through to the round of 16 in the World Cup 2006.

It didn't start well for the Socceroos with Mark Viduka giving away a free kick which was converted by Darijo Sma into a goal within the first 2 minutes of play. Oh no, not the start we'd hoped for!

36 minutes later and Craig Moore put away a penalty kick after Stjepan Tomas, from Croatia, was penalised for a hand-ball in the box. Scores even (1-1) and momentum clearly in favour of Australia as Croatia played a more defensive game, trying to ride the game out.

In the 56th minute disaster struck as Australian goalie Zeljko Kalac let through an absolutely shocking kick by Niko Kovac – Kalac managed to block the ball with a side dive but the top spin on the ball kept it going, straight into the back of the net! It was such a soft goal that the Australian crowd was stunned to silence. 2-1 in Croatia's favour and things were again looking dicey.

Then in the 79th minute, Harry Kewell sealed the game (a draw of 2-2) for Australia with a lovely left footed strike from a head deflection! Here's a picture of the resulting jubilee amongst the Socceroos:

Photo: Vince Caligiuri (The Age)

Australia managed to hold on for the last 13 or so minutes to come away with a draw, which was all they needed having learnt that Japan had gone down 4-1 to Brazil.

It was a pretty scrappy game with many yellows handed out to the Croatian team (as well as two red cards) and a few yellows plus a red given to Australia. The referring was pretty average (there were two more possible penalty kicks for Australia that weren't awarded) but thankfully it didn't make much difference to the end result.

Next round we take on Italy which is a knock out game (it's the quarter finals after all). I personally believe we can take them down and progress to the semi finals which will be magnificent seeing as many people wrote us off to even progress past the Pool round.

Go the Socceroos! Oi Oi Oi!

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Come On Socceroos!

June 13, 2006

Wow! What a game Australia had against Japan in the 2006 World Cup (soccer World Cup that is)!

I watched it live with my wife and after a dubious goal by Japan in the 26th minute, it looked like Australian goalie Schwarzer was impeded by a couple of Japanese players, things were looking pretty grim. While Australia dominated possession in the first and second halves, it seemed likely that Japan was going to hold on and win 1-0, upsetting our chances of advancement into the second round. That was until coach Guus Hiddink made two important substitutions – Tim Cahill and John Aloisi.

Cahill came on to score the equalising goal in the 84th minute (1-1) and followed that up by a beautiful kick that hit the left post and then flew into the net (2-1). The crowd erupted, the Australia portion of it anyway, as did our house and the rest of Australia I’m sure. Icing was then added to the cake with a great run and goal by striker Aloisi to finish it 3-1. These were to be Australia’s first goals ever scored at a World Cup and the first game ever won at a World Cup too – magnificent.

Soccer, or Football as the purists prefer to call it, isn’t really that big here in Australia but already predictions are that this will have a positive affect on the sport in the junior levels. While I personally prefer a game of Rugby Union (speaking of which, Australia spanked England 34-3 on Sunday night) to Soccer, I can’t deny that the World Cup is exciting to watch.

We still have to face Brazil, which will be a momentous task, and then Croatia. I predict us drawing with Brazil and defeating Croatia, resulting in the Socceroos heading into the second round! Come on Socceroos!

Anyone else watch this game or any other World Cup game and care to give their thoughts?

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Apple iPods & Nike Runners Unite

May 24, 2006

I’ll be up front with you, I’m not a huge Apple fan. Don’t know why but it’s probably got to do with my background in PCs, my appreciation of value for money (though this differentiation is getting smaller and smaller), the fact that I write Windows based applications and my lack of being a ‘fashion’ technologist.

Pre October 2001 and Apple was on the ropes. Your average computer user either had no idea who they were or knew who they were but had never used a Mac. It was a tough time. Queue entrance of the 1st generation iPod and the rest is history. As of November 2005, Apple had sold over 30million iPods and the iPod is now the standard portable music device that the industry compares all other devices to. So, I tip my hat to Apple and say, “Way to go, that was clever”.

Even their iBook and new MacBook laptop offerings recently have been priced quite competitively with PC equivalents, causing a few friends of mine to ‘jump ship’ and consider getting an Apple laptop. These are people that would never have considered an Apple had it not been for the revolution caused by the iPod.

Then I read about the Nike+iPod Sports Kit (here ) and think to myself, “You have got to be joking!” For those too lazy to view the linked article it’s basically Apple and Nike teaming up to provide a pedometer capability to specially equipped Nike shoes via Apples iPod. My brain is screaming stupid and my head is nodding in agreement! It achieves this via an antenna in your shoes and a special attachment in the iPod. But don’t take my word, or Wireds word for that matter, take it straight from the horses mouth – Nike+iPod.

I just don’t see the point of this, I seriously don’t. Still I’m sure it’ll be all the rage soon, as anything to do with Apple/iPod has become the new ‘cool fashion’ accessory. Somebody tell me I’m wrong (or that I’m right)!!

PS. Apple really is good at marketing isn’t it. After writing this post and actually viewing the Apple website of this product, it does look pretty cool. But cool doesn’t mean functional – only time will tell.

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