The Euro 2008 semi-final between Germany and Turkey wasn’t being broadcast on free-to-air SBS TV so I investigated alternatives. The SBS website mentioned Satanta, which I had never heard of. But we really wanted to watch that match so I paid for a one month subscription. It worked out well. I already had a small PC I had used as a cheap media centre so I knew it would display ok on the TV. I also ran an ethernet cable from our ADSL2+ router rather than trust the 54 mbps wireless connection. Surprisingly the picture quality was ok. Not as good as normal SD TV but watchable. It was streaming at 450kbs and seemingly didn’t drop a frame.
The four of us went to ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park, last night full of anticipation that we might see a great match. And isn’t that every fan’s hope? Unfortunately, for the game if not for Australia, it was a dead rubber. By beating Qatar convincingly Australia had already made it to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers. By losing to Iraq China were at the bottom of the group table with no chance of making it through. On the positive side Pim Verbeek had selected a young side who presumably would try to impress everyone and stake a claim for a place in the regular socceroo line-up. Meanwhile China would be keen to go out of the qualifiers on a high note.
China kept their side of the bargain for the first 15 minutes. They looked threatening and scored a good goal. But that was the end – they shut the game down and wasted as much time as possible. The goalkeeper hung on to the ball as often as possible. Various players went down in a screaming heap for no justifiable reason – number 13 was carried off twice only to recover miraculously and then waste time trying to come back on.
Of course this sort of tactic can backfire if the other side scores. But Australia looked poorly organised and unconvincing. As the game went on the new players settled down a little but there were so many technical errors – misdirected passes, poor control of the ball, sloppy marking – that scoring looked unlikely. Harry Kewell had a solid game but you could see he didn’t have conficence in the players behind him so he rarely left the middle of the park to support Bruce Djite up front.
There was talk in the media during the week that the ANZ Stadium playing surface was in poor condition after recent Rugby League matches. It did look worse for wear – plenty of grass but a bit spongy and uneven.
Despite the result it was a good night out. We drove to Strathfield station and caught the train to Olympic Park, avoiding the traffic jams. (We usually take the train all the way because the fares are included in the football ticket, but there was trackwork on our line on Sunday). Barbara packed sandwiches, snacks, drinks and coffee so we didn’t need to queue up to buy expensive crap.
The Socceroos had a welcome return to form this morning in beating Qatar away 3-1. Brett Emerton was played forward and scored twice. Harry Kewell scored and could have had two more. China lost against Iraq 2-1 and is now at the bottom of our group and can’t get through to the next round. This means that the match against Australia in Sydney later this month isn’t that significant. Hopefully it will be a good game anyway.
Apart from World Cup qualifiers Euro 2008 is also happening at the moment. Some notable results:
- the host nations, Austria and Switzerland, both lost their opening games, to Croatia and the Czech Republic respectively, (Czech Republic then lost 3-1 to Portugal)
- the Netherlands belted Italy, the current World Cup champions, 3-0,
- Spain, despite being regular under-achievers, did the same to Russia 4-1,
- the current Euro champions, Greece, went down 2-0 to Sweden in their opening game,
- Germany looked strong in beating Poland 2-0, the 2 goals being scored by Polish-born Lukas Podolski.
Some games are being broadcast on SBS TV