Australia 0 Spain 3
I woke up at what would have been half time and considered the options – stay in bed, or find some courage and go find out how well or, more likely, how badly we were doing. It was only 1-0 to Spain, but the second half soon showed up the Socceroos’ deficiencies for all to see, taking the sheen off the gutsy performances of the first two games. The game had a dispiriting flatness, with Spain already out of the tournament – they didn’t even celebrate their goals. Australia, also out of course but without its suspended talisman, was toothless. Craig Foster made the game even more unbearable, as his usual irritating commentary mannerisms were now being augmented by his newly found Greg Chappell via 12th Man clipped delivery, and his constantly talking over the top of David Basheer – Foster has therefore crossed the line not only of being unprofessional, but even having regressed towards a more childlike state, almost commentating the match himself, as if he was an eight-year-old in the backyard trying to recreate or rewrite great moments in football history with himself as the star. It’s strange to be discussing an autopsy of a campaign that had been considered dead before arrival by all and sundry , but the many different factions of Australian support already had their prepared remarks on their cue cards, and off they went. The Pollyannas were already pointing to a promising future, injured players set to return, and the notion that we’d turned a corner. The Statler and Waldorfs on the other hand, pointed to the fact that we still copped nine goals, and that without Cahill and to a lesser extent Bresciano, we played our worst game, against a side that never got out of second gear. I’d add to the debate, but frankly, I’m exhausted.
Mexico 3 Croatia 1
Sure, I could have slept during the two hour break between games, but instead I ended up sleeping during the first half of this match, but by the sounds of it I didn’t miss much, apart from Mexico hitting the woodwork, and another crowd singing the catchy bit of Seven Nation Army – not bad for a band that allegedly once played to about a dozen people at a pre-fame Melbourne show. Croatia needed to win this one – unless Cameroon somehow won their game against Brazil – but you couldn’t really tell from the footage. The Croatian-Australian soccer intelligentsia both on SBS – Ned Zelic was close to tears – and especially on the forums have already started poring over the carnage. At one point it looked like Mexico may even make it out of the group having only scored the one goal, especially after Darijo Srna’s wonderful save to deny them the opener – if only he was the goalkeeper, and if only the referee had called for the penalty – but instead the Mexicans turned it on late with a seven minute burst yielding three goals. Croatia pulled one back, but Mexico made it through comfortably to another round of 16 appearance. That they haven’t made it past that stage since 1986 probably doesn’t augur well for their continued participation in the tournament, which is a pity considering that they have some of the best support at the tournament, including sombreros, luchador masks and the guy riding a donkey.