For the past 18 months, the Australian national team has relied too heavily upon attacking midfielder Tim Cahill.
The loss to Germany has dampened the spirits of Australian fans and more importantly the players but as professional footballers they are required to move on and bounce back in the face of adversity.
Pim Verbeek’s men must now do that without their key player but the beauty of football is that it is a team game and more often than not, a strong, determined team will far outweigh an individual.
Australia needs to win both of its remaining Group D matches to get through to the Round of 16 starting with Ghana in Rustenburg on Saturday but things need to change from a formation and tactical standpoint.
On Monday morning in Durban, Verbeek made some glaring errors with his starting line-up, particularly starting Cahill up front with Richard Garcia who does not play that role at club level and also trying to play a high defensive line, which worked well against Denmark in a warm-up match, but not so good against the pace and quality of Germany’s forwards.
Too often, central defenders Craig Moore and Lucas Neill were beaten to the ball and outclassed by the likes of Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil as they attempted to play an offside trap but that tactic clearly did not work and it must be changed.
It may pay to bring in Michael Beauchamp who has more agility than the ageing Moore and could form a more cohesive relationship with Neill, which was evident when the two played together against New Zealand late last month.
For the Ghana match, Verbeek must play Harry Kewell. Surely he is ready now and if he isn’t, why was he taken over to South Africa in the first place?
A player of his class has to be started to give the Socceroos every conceivable chance of scoring, which they must do to win, and he must be joined by Mark Bresciano who is a vital member of the midfield.
Bresciano takes the central midfield role with Jason Culina as a defensive midfielder giving the Australians movement and quality distribution through midfield.
These may not be answers to winning the match but at least it will be seen that Verbeek is doing something for the cause and showing that he actually cares which was non-apparent in Durban and with Cahill not on the pitch because of his questionable red card, changes need to be made.