Socceroos coach slammed after World Cup exit
A FORMER US international turned ESPN analyst has laid the blame for Australia's World Cup exit squarely at the feet of Bert van Marwijk.
Janusz Michallik, who played 44 games for the US in the early 1990s, slammed the Socceroos coach's player selections and failure to go for the kill after Australia's campaign ended with a 2-0 defeat against Peru.
"Bert van Marwijk lost this," Michallik told ESPN.
"His in-game management wasn't good. I can understand why he had certain starting XIs, but the manager of Australia was afraid of his own shadow.
"In every game, Australia was in it. They grew into the games. In the second half against France they looked good, against Denmark they looked good and even in this game (against Peru) when they were chasing the game as well."
Michallik said the Socceroos would regret not playing Tim Cahill in the first two games of the tournament or bringing Daniel Arzani on earlier against Peru.
"You have to trust your players, you have to let them be, you have to let them play," he said. "Van Marwijk knows he's gone after this one. I was extremely disappointed in how he managed the game throughout the tournament."
Bert van Marwijk made huge difference to Socceroos over past few weeks. Think he made 1 big mistake - last part of Denmark game was primed for Cahill. But fact we’re looking for heroics from a 38 year old goes to heart of why Aus fell short. Lack of goals a problem for too long.— Tom Smithies (@SmithiesTele) 26 June 2018
Van Marwijk only made one alteration to his starting XI across three games, a forced change after Andrew Nabbout was injured against Denmark. But he said he had no regrets at this stage and kept a settled lineup to allow his team to develop.
"I didn't change a lot, but that's one of the reasons a team can grow," he said.
Asked if the campaign was a success or a failure, the Dutchman hedged.
"Not a success but also not a failure," he said. "Everybody saw the way we performed and played we got a lot of compliments. Only compliments don't win games"
Peru was yet to score a goal in Russia and didn't look like changing that in the first 20 minutes as Australia's control bordered on dominance.
Tomi Juric replaced Andrew Nabbout and gave Australia a different look with his ability to act as a target man.
But out of nowhere a long ball over the Aussie defensive line was just out of Trent Sainsbury's reach and fell to Peru captain Paolo Guerrero.
He spotted Andre Carrillo advancing down the other side of the pitch and chipped an inch-perfect pass that was expertly volleyed across Mat Ryan and into the corner of the net.
The South Americans had taken 27 shots in their first two games without scoring but nailed their first in this one.
It stunned the Socceroos but within a few minutes they resumed the offensive. Tom Rogic went on a scintillating slalom run through the teeth of the Peruvian defence but his shot was comfortably blocked by keeper Pedro Gallese.
It was again so close, but so far away minutes later as Rogic threaded a dream through ball to Robbie Kruse, who pulled a pass back in Mathew Leckie's path. But Leckie was thwarted by two sliding defenders and the chance went begging.
Van Marwijk threw his hands up in frustration as the missed opportunities started to mount. Neat work by Josh Risdon was rewarded with a free kick on the edge of the 18-yard box but a well-aimed Aaron Mooy set piece was greeted by a Peruvian head.
As far as first halves go it was comfortably the Australians' best of the tournament in terms of the chances created, but they had nothing to show for it.
The killer blow came early in the second period. Risdon was left trailing Edison Flores after a one-two on the left flank and the Peruvians launched an attack. Mile Jedinak's attempted intercept bobbled awkwardly into the box and Guerrero was there to pounce. He turned and aimed a left-footed shot at the goal that clipped Mark Milligan's foot and squeezed past Ryan.
Finally it was Tim Cahill time.
The veteran star made his long-awaited first appearance in the tournament and was given 40 minutes to change Australia's fortunes as he replaced Juric.
A few minutes later Daniel Arzani, who is half Cahill's age, joined the fray in Kruse's place.
The Peruvians were content to sit back with a two-goal advantage but it invited frenetic action at the goalmouth.
Cahill got his head to a ball which created a chance for Aziz Behich, but he sent his shot wide. Then Cahill took his turn, connecting sweetly with a shot that had the keeper beaten but crashed into a defender's leg.
When Arzani swung an ambitious but not unrealistic long-range attempt just over the crossbar in the 67th minute Australia had taken 13 shots - only two of which were on target - to Peru's four.
The men in gold didn't add to their shot tally with their next gilt-edged chance, as Behich's side-footed pass missed its intended target in Cahill.
Jackson Irvine was the final substitute for the third game in a row but the game was gone by the time he entered in the 72nd minute. Australia's hopes began to fade as the Peruvians in the crowd began their victory songs and it was only the woodwork that prevented a 3-0 scoreline.