Unlucky Thirteen?

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar May 27, 2016 23:02

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Unlucky Thirteen?

By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (May 26th 2016)

Setting the Record Straight

Just over thirteen years ago – February 12th to be precise – Sven-Göran Eriksson made a 17-year-old then the youngest player to represent England. The opponents that day at Upton Park were Australia. Rooney went on to become England’s record goal-scorer. Tomorrow night he has the opportunity for revenge. Australia had not read the script and beat England 3-1.

After 16 minutes Australia stunned England as Tony Popović headed in the opener from a free-kick. 20 minutes into the match Paul Scholes had his equaliser disallowed for offside. An excellent run and finish by Harry Kewell doubled Australia’s lead after 42 minutes. Francis Jeffers – remember him – pulled one back with a header on his debut too, but Brett Emerton finished the scoring with Australia’s third after excellent work by John Aloisi.

The victory lives long in Australian hearts and minds.

Relevance

It wasn’t even mentioned according to Australia’s captain Mile Jedinak. “Not until this point, so we all know it”, he said about the famous win. “I definitely do, so I’m sure most of the other boys do, but look the sole focus has been on what we’re going to try and do tomorrow. We know that they’re preparing for a tournament and what not, but we worry about our own principles and how we’re going to try and win that game tomorrow”.

But did it add its own pressure to emulate the class of 2003? “Look”, he said, “I haven’t really given it too much thought. It’s like I said, we’re preparing for another game of football on this journey that we’ve been on for a little bit, using it as our next game for our World Cup preparations coming up in September and October, so it’s a great honour to be here and to be representing my country tomorrow night”.

Edge

Jedinak was clear about the aim. “It happens to be against England, which again is the next opponent that lies ahead of us, but you know, we’re using it for that reason and if we can test ourselves against good opposition away from home, it’s going to put us in a good place going forward”, he said.

His coach Ange Postecoglou was clear too. “Look that’s not for me to judge”, Postecoglou said about whether there was a special edge to this fixture. “For us it’s you know a great opportunity to test ourselves and sort of where we’re at as a team against a good quality opponent away from home and you know our chance to explore a few things that you know we need to do before the World Cup campaign starts, but obviously there’s a great deal of interest and excitement around the game externally and that’s fine. It’s good as well. It doesn’t really change what our objectives are”.

Atmosphere

The Stadium of Light had sold out for tomorrow’s match and the Australian diaspora in England was expected to be well represented in Sunderland – 5-10,000. What did Postecoglou think of such support for an away match?

“Unusual, yeah”, he said. “We didn’t get that many in Tajikistan or Bangladesh to be fair, but it’s a harder place to get to, so no it’ll be nice. The important thing is yeah, there’ll be a big crowd tomorrow, and a great atmosphere and again that’s part of, you know, the exercise as well to a lot of our guys too, especially our younger ones. It’s their first introduction to international football and they can take it all in tomorrow night in a friendly game and hopefully that prepares them better for what’s ahead”.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar May 27, 2016 23:02