Harsh truth of quality chasm which stalks Socceroos

The fingers of blame will be pointed at Bert van Marwijk but perhaps the real reason why Australia are heading home from the 2018 FIFA World Cup is they simply weren’t good enough.

Tim Cahill

Source: AAP

The hysteria over Tim Cahilll and Daniel Arzani - and the scant match minutes they were afforded - disguises one irrefutable fact: when the chips were down the Socceroos couldn’t find the Midas touch needed to succeed at World Cup level.

Be it against France, Denmark and finally Peru, those fine margins of quality, where games are won and lost, were like a mirage. Always just beyond their reach.

The fact that both goals at the tournament came from Mile Jedinak penalties tells a story of a team lacking the penetration and the ruthless efficiency that separates the also-rans from the achievers on football’s most unforgiving stage.

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With the final Group C game against Peru already out of their grasp at 2-0, the calls for Cahill were finally answered in the 52nd minute by van Marwijk, as he replaced an ineffective Tomi Juric.

But, at 38, Timmy Time isn’t what it used to be and the legendary Socceroo barely had a touch as Peru - already out before a ball had been kicked - made their raucous army of fans proud with a performance which finally delivered on their promise.



While Cahill’s decorated international career ended with a whimper in stifling Sochi heat, Arzani’s is just beginning.

He arrived in the 57th minute but at the age of 19, and with just 25 professional games of football to his name, he is not yet the miniature messiah people want him to be.

He had some beguiling moments, and his movement and trickery were a concern for Peru, but too much is expected of him too soon.

His time will come.

As for the Socceroos, they will lick their wounds, dream of what might have been as they go their separate ways en route out of Russia.

Arch pragmatist van Marwijk will insist he did the best with the talent at his disposal.

And rationalists and realists will nod sagely and venture that while luck was never a bedfellow at this World Cup, Australia simply couldn’t breach the quality chasm, even if Tom Rogic, a master of improvisation in one of his best displays for his country, didn’t deserve to end up on a losing side.




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3 min read
Published 27 June 2018 at 3:21am
By Dave Lewis in Sochi