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Socceroos to face Japan in quarters

The Socceroos this morning beat Thailand 4 nil in the final Group A match at the 2007 Asian Cup to finish second in the group with four points as Iraq topped the group after a goalless draw against Oman.

I think the four nil scoreline is a bit harsh on the Thais who dominated almost 35 minutes of the second half but despite their dominance and possession they could not get that crucial goal.

It is during that spell that the Socceroos defence stood firm although there were a few anxious moments here and there but as long the as the Thais did not score it was alright.

It was good to see the team changed around especially giving a start to Michael Beauchamp and Mark Milligan whom I thought had a brilliant game.

It was important for the Socceroos to start well in this match and they did exactly that fighting for every ball and supporting the player with the ball some things that were glaringly missing in the first two matches. That made sure that Thailand only came into the game in the second half and by then the Socceroos had adjusted to their type of play and the conditions.

The last ten minutes of the match were more or less a Tim Cahill show. Although he himself didn't score, he had a hand in all three goals to help come up with a flattering scoreline that maybe the Thais will feel didn't fairly reflect the play on the field. But winning football matches is determined by goals and possession and dominance while good are all good for statistics and analysis but not much after that if they don't produce goals.

Now this maiden Asian Cup win means that the Socceroos will meet Japan in Vietnam with group winners Iraq staying in Thailand to meet Vietnam. This is why it was all-important to win the group and stay with familiar conditions but as things turned out just qualifying in itself was more important than anything else.

There is no doubt that the Japan match will be a very tough one with Japan playing particularly well at this tournament. But this will be a new match and its interesting to see whether Lucas Neill will be recalled to the starting lineup after serving his suspension.

...great escape, kudos to the coach for taking the bold move and changing the team. Give the jerseys to those committed...I think the coach was right about some players not wanting to be at the tournament....remember Cahill said he was surprised that the Cup doesn't have any financial winning cheque...Japan being a grudge match, should be interesting...

Yes, Mbareboy, Arnold should make it clear that nobody is guaranteed a place in the team and everybody has to deserve their place. Good win and good effort.

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