Despite a fiery start to World Cup 2006 with hosts Germany taking on less-fancied Costa Rica in an, excuse the sports cliché, enthralling encounter that saw the ball find the back of the net six times, the tournament has slowed down considerably. This is not to say that it has become boring, all it means is that tactics are starting to play much more of a role. This sentiment is shared by Paul Jewell who pleaded fans not to siren the alarm after England’s disappointing encounter against Paraguay.
The main example of this has been the moment of clarity and experience shown by the always-impressive Guus Hiddink whilst trailing 0-1 to Japan. Hiddink decided to bring on Everton’s attacking midfielder Tim Cahill and national team goal machine John Aloisi (24 goals in 42 matches). The inspired substitutions immediately paid dividends with Cahill finding the net twice within 5 minutes (and with about the same amount of time left in regulation) and Aloisi rubbing salt Japanese wounds by scoring in time added on.
The “sub way” also proved effective for South Korea’s man in charge in their match against Togo. Despite being named after an orange liqueur, coach Dick Advocaat brought on Jung Hwan Anh in the second half after Mohamed Kader opened the scoring for Togo in the first half. After Chun Soo Lee broke Togolese hearts, Anh finished off the African minnows with a splendid shot from outside the box to beat the goalkeeper and earn Korea all three points.
Some would say that this type of managerial brilliance cannot be taught or bought – I beg to differ – sure, it cannot be taught but if the price is right the coach will come. If only Bafana Bafana could dosh up and snatch a coach of this caliber…