Monday, June 12, 2006

Australia v Japan, ITV1

Surprise: ITV start by dealing with the match in hand. Unfortunately this involves Ned Boulting interviewing a man holding (and later wrestling with) an inflatable crocodile, mentioning cricket within 1.7 seconds, and dropping in a slightly oblique reference to Men At Work. Then, oh, the start of a series on 1966 - swinging Carnaby Street! Pickles the dog! Bobby Moore and his cat, Pele! Jim promises more of this during the rest of the tournament, which seems reason enough to switch on late wherever possible, and at this point your correspondent had to help a confused gentleman who thought he lived in the flat upstairs and so missed the rest of the build-up, which I'm sure is something that the Guardian minute-by-minute reporters never have to put up with.

"It's a baking Bondi afternoon" says Clive, introducing the theme for the day, ie it's hot. Gareth's in tow again - is there a reason why ITV are keeping commentators and pundits together? Has there been some falling-out between Clive and David Pleat that we need to be told about? Australia surprise Gareth by having Luke Wilkshire ("another ex-Middlesbrough player - er, not that the others are ex-Middlesbrough") playing on the right, and much discussion of Guus Hiddink Being A Wily Old Fox ensues. Gareth seems to have settled down after a nervous opening couple of games, having fun with Kawaguchi's "eccentricities" (ie he wasn't very good for Portsmouth) and claiming that "it's not a good sign when your goalkeeper is a pin-up" but not explaining why this should be. Clive gets excited about Fukunishi, "the most carefully pronounced player in the tournament". Then - hurrah! - controversy. Nakamura lobs the ball in, Schwarzer misses it completely, and the ball sails past him. From the replays it looks like Schwarzer has run into Takahara, but Gareth's having none of it; "if that was England we'd be bouncing up and down" he claims, possibly forgetting Portugal and that Goalkeepers Get Too Much Protection These Days. Hiddink argues with the fourth (or possibly fifth) official while squatting angrily over a monitor, proving that it is possible to squat angrily, and Japan end the half on top, Yanagisawa popping up so often that Gareth learns to pronounce his name properly.

Half time: Gabriel Clarke in Baden-Baden tells us very little; Terry seems convinced that England won't underestimate Trinidad, which is generous of him; Townsend blames Schwarzer for the goal, claiming that he's "twice the size of the Japanese", which is reason to be thankful that they're unlikely to come up against Crouch any time soon; the 3D graphic is given a rest, although it's unclear whether this is because they didn't have any use for it or that someone has realised that it was a crap idea in the first place.

The second half quickly settles into a pattern - Australia having the ball but not having much idea with what to do with it; Japan looking dangerous on the break but running out of ideas whenever they near the goal. A knackered-looking Craig Moore is replaced by Cahill, with Brett Emerton apparently going to centre-half - Gareth claims that Mark Hughes will be surprised, but no doubt is cast on Hiddink's Wily Old Fox status - and Josh Kennedy's arrival is trailed with the news that he is "Peter-Crouch sized", or "tall", as the OED has it. Clive seems convinced that Australia are about to score but the Japanese defence look fairly comfortable, not even being put off by the introduction of a particularly grumpy-looking Aloisi. Just as the director starts picking out miserable Aussies in the crowd, Kawaguchi flaps at a long throw and Cahill rams in the equaliser, Aloisi neatly allowing the ball through his legs on the way. A frantic ten minutes ensues: Clive puts Japan not getting a penalty down to some sort of 'rough justice' for their goal, then tiptoes around the pronunciation of Fukunishi again; Cahill scores the second, the ball slamming pleasingly off of both posts, and is mobbed by the entire subs bench; Japan sub an earlier substitute; and Alosi still manages to look quite grumpy even after he's added the third. Ruud inexplicably claims that Hiddink "has a horseshoe as big as a house" to much merriment from the rest of the panel, and Terry hails the tactical masterstroke of bringing on extra forwards when you're losing - sounds obvious, but the idea doesn't seem to have reached Angola as yet, so maybe you really do need to be a Wily Old Fox to understand this sort of thing.

What we learned: Japan would be dangerous if they had a cutting edge; Australia will be dangerous as long as Cahill stays fit; goalkeepers don't get enough protection these days.

Warning: more 'Ask England' is planned, so be wary about switching on any ITV coverage more than five minutes before the match starts.


Blogger Ben said...

Not surprised to see I wasn't the only one who recoiled in horror at the prospect of more 'Ask England'...

7:07 pm, June 12, 2006

Blogger Del said...

Was delighted to see Australia come back, after predicting all day that they would see off Japan comfortably, and being wrong for 85 minutes. Even more delighted that I watched it at work with the sound off.

2:59 am, June 13, 2006

Blogger skif said...

A Japanese football blogger, Depflight, had the following to say about his teams performance.

Football (Japan) Lost In Translation

which may or may not be of interest.

9:31 am, June 13, 2006


Post a Comment

<< Home