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Cahill saves the day

The Socceroos got a very lucky draw against Oman in their opening match at the 2007 Asian Cup in a match played in a nearly empty stadium in Bangkok.

By the time the Socceroos scored, Oman should have been at least three goals up had they taken some easy chances that fell their way especially in the second half. Mark Schwarzer showed once again that he is a dependable goalkeeper but the leaky defence should be a worry should the team progress to the later stages of the tournament.

Australia's left huge gaps at the back and the defence looked largely unco-ordinated and every Oman attack looked like it would lead to a goal but Schwarzer was the real star because without his acrobatic saves it could easily have been a humiliating score.

The Oman team managed to impose their game earlier on with short passes starting from the back and then building up from there and trying to go through the middle and on the other hand side you just couldn't tell what the Socceroos were trying to do or what the game plan was.

When Oman scored I thought we would see an immediate response from the Socceroos but none came despite a bit of pressure at the start of the second half and that pressure only managed to yield a succession of free-kicks and corner-kicks which were wasted.

Then came on Tim Cahill and he scored the goal the Socceroos barely deserved but which will mean so much especially with Thailand and Iraq drawing the previous day.

This match showed that FIFA world ranking counts for nothing and its what you do on the day that really counts.

Looking at the other matches, I think the most interesting match so far was the match between Vietnam and UAE. UAE were fancied to win against the hosts but the Vietnamese team roared on by the vocal local support played some very good football that left the UAE stunned.

I thought UAE did everything right but ran out of ideas when they came close to the Vietnamese goal. Bruno Metsu, the UAE coach, will have a lot of work to do before the next match against Japan if he is to get his team to the quarters.

The Oman match was an eye-opener to all those who thought the Asian Cup was going to be a cake-walk. The Socceroos just turned up thinking it was all going to go their way with very little preparation and they got a good wake up call. The favourites tag on them just shows the ignorance people have about football in Asia and as it stands now if the Socceroos were to meet Oman again, I think they would get beaten if they play they way they did on Sunday.

But I don't think they can play worse than that. There was no imagination in their play and towards the end it they resorted to ping ball. What happened to passing the ball?

I am just happy to see that Iraq and Thailand are not as good as Oman and so the quarter finals are still a strong possibility.

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You are right Andy, with the Iraq match now being a must win match, its good to see that its a winnable match if the Iraqis play like they did against Thailand and the Socceroos don't play like they did against Oman.