Thursday, June 22, 2006

Guus Hiddink will take Australia on the South Korean tour, if they beat Croatia tonight. With only a draw, Australia can qualify for round two. Only if Japan beats the socks of Brazil in the shadow match, does Australia need to beat the Croats.
The Aussies, under the Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, will aim for a win anyway.
The Croats need a clear win for a ticket to round two.
They open the scoreboard within three minutes. A free kick, from twenty-five meters blasts over the wall into the Australian goal.


"The Australians are shell shocked," says the commentator.
Six minutes in the game, Australia receives another message saying today was not going to be easy. An Australian striker is tackled down in the penalty box. The tackle impresses the American commentator, if it would have been a linesman's tackle, in an American football game. Still our referee sees if different and denies the Aussies a penalty.

"Right now Croatia is in the driver's seat," says the commentator while an Australian striker steps on the ball in mid action, and fumbles the play.
"Brazil and Japan are deadlocked," says the commentator about the scoreless shadow match.
Australia tightens up their attack but does seem to find a hole for a shot on target.
"Australia seeds too many passes in the box," says the commentator. "Somebody has to take a shot."
Australia cannot break the Croats, but they are able to frustrate them. A player of Croatia stretches his hand to the ball. An old maradonna move, brought back to life by a Mexican yesterday. Let us call it the world cup virus.
A penalty is rewarded, and a Croatian keeper dives to the wrong corner.


"I think if you listen closely, you can here the noise from down-under coming up," says the commentator while Australia celebrates.
The second half starts cautious. Since Brazil and Japan in the shadow game also hit the halftime break with a one-one score on the board, all contenders are back to start.
Australia controls the game while the news of the Brazilians taking the lead enters the stadium.
However, the world cup story brings another sudden plot twist. A player of Australia deflects a shot of Croatia into his own goal.


"Tempers are flaring," says the commentator while the frustration on the fields spills over in fouls.
"All the decisions are going against Australia," says the commentator.
The Aussies on the field pull their game together and ponder the Croatian defense. The keeper of Croatia even has the burry the ball into the grass on the goal line, while Australian strikers topple over him.
Australia is throwing everything they got, and is rewarded.
The linesman misses the offside, nevertheless Australia perseveres.


The Aussies know they only have to hold on, considering Japan is getting their ears whacked with four goals against one, in the shadow game.
The tension rises as Croatia opens fire, but fumbles in the end zone.
"Australia just saw their world cup dream life flash in front of their eyes, but they live to tell the tale," says the commentator. "This is absolute agony, for Croatian fans."

The final ten seconds of the game is a story on its own. Australia scores, but the referee says no goal. A Croatian player makes a comment, and receives a yellow card for it. It is his second, so an agitated referee shows him red. Then he blows the whistle and sends his whole team home, while Australia qualifies for round two.
Guus, you are the best.