It’s a steep climb from the centre of Kaiserslautern to the Fritz-Walter-Stadion, formerly known as the Betzenberg after the hill that looks over the small http://www.goldenstatewarriorsauthentic.com/Womens-Mitch-Richmond-Jersey town in south-western Germany. For the Australian fans making their way there on a baking June day in 2006, it was just another few steps at the end of a long and often agonising Womens Bernie Parent Jersey journey back to the World Cup finals since the Socceroos’ only previous appearance, in 1974, also in Germany.
The landmarks of that barren run are all too familiar: New Zealand, Scotland, Israel, Argentina, Iran and Uruguay had all left their scars on the memory. It would be hard to argue against John Aloisi’s penalty against Uruguay in November 2005 that ended that run as the single most critical and emotional moment of Australia’s recent World Cup history. But you could also easily make the case that the last 10 minutes of the opening game in the finals, Womens Eric Thames Jersey against Japan in Kaiserslautern, meant as much.
Les Murray, having lived every moment of the journey, called it “a poignant moment” as he introduced the SBS coverage. “After a 32-year wait, Australia will walk on the pitch behind me, face the sun and engage in a game of football that will captivate all in our country like few Womens Dak Prescott Jersey have done before.”
Even he could scarcely have imagined how true that would turn out to be.
The context was critical. The A-League had just completed its first season and Australia had recently been accepted into the Asian confederation, potentially putting both the domestic and international side of the game on a whole new footing. The Socceroos had their finest crop of players in decades – of the 14 players who ultimately got on http://www.officialauthenticgiantstore.com/Nike-Phil-Simms-Jersey.html the field against Japan, seven were with Premiership clubs, two in Serie A, one in La Liga and two in the top divisions of Switzerland and the Netherlands.
All this meant Australia had both their greatest opportunity to make progress at a World Cup, and the most urgent need to do so, to reinforce the mood of change and optimism. And with Brazil and Croatia completing the group, a win against the relative minnows Japan was crucial if the Socceroos were to have any chances of making the knockout stage.
The narrative of Australia’s return to the biggest world stage was matched by the setting: Kaiserslautern’s wonderful, steep-sided stadium was packed with 46,000 fans, most of whom had made their way there from the other side of the world. For many Australians it was the first http://www.nflbillsofficialauthentic.com/Nike-Jerry-Hughes-Jersey.html taste of the incredible noise of the disciplined Samurai Blue fans that would become all too familiar in the years to come.
If Murray, the fans and the thousands watching at home in the middle of the night were in danger of getting swept away by emotion, coach Guus Hiddink was there to keep the players’ heads clear (although he too would lose his cool as events unfolded). Hiddink recalled years later how he had tried to add self-belief and tactical nous to the Australian players’ traditional qualities.
“They had passionate hearts, [but] tactically and strategically it was not in balance with the super commitment of the guys.”
He was so successful that the tactics website Zonal Marking rated Hiddink’s Australia one of the teams of the decade for http://www.officialauthenticslions.com/WOMENS_YOUTH_TRAVIS_SWANSON_JERSEY.html its “highly unusual formation”, using three defenders and a single striker (Mark Viduka), with the six others in various fluid midfield combinations.
But for most observers the tension blotted out any appreciation of tactical niceties. Viduka had an early double chance awkwardly kept out by Japan’s keeper, Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, and for the Socceroos all the old anxieties came flooding back when they went behind in the 26th minute. Shunsuke Nakamura’s Womens Yonder Alonso Jersey cross from the right seemed to be routine for Mark Schwarzer, but the goalkeeper was edged out of the way by a combination of Japan’s strikers Naohiro Takahara and Atsushi Yanagisawa, and the ball bounced gently in. Schwarzer later claimed the Egyptian referee admitted he had made a mistake, but that was of little use on the field, as Australia faced the prospect of the tamest elimination imaginable. cheap jerseys free shippingwholesale nfl jerseyscheap jerseys from chinacheap jerseyswholesale nfl jerseyswholesale jerseyswholesale jerseyscheap jerseys free shipping
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