As Postecoglou had failed us, I went for Argentina - naturally. Their first match was against the Czech Republic. A while ago now, but I kinda blogged in my notebook:
Anyway, last night the kids lost. Not on the scoreboard, but they didn't get their objective - which was to win the match. It finished 0-0 and at 80 minutes, when the Czech coach/manager/whatever took off his cute-as-pie striker* (Fenin) and put on another defender it was obvious that the Czechs were playing for a draw.
The Argentinians threw everything they could at the Czechs, but I think they beat themselves in not being able to score. There was a chance very early in the match when there were three (or at the very least two) Argis on the left side of the penalty box, but none of them could ever get the ball to sit where they wanted it to. That early in the match I am happy for them to use the condition of the synthetic pitch as an excuse.
A few minutes later there was a similar opportunity. I can't remember it all that well, but I know that at that moment I couldn't put the blame on the poor condition of the pitch. It was a poor shot, or straight to the Czech keeper. Perhaps there were two parts and the follow up was awful.
As the match wore on, we just couldn't score! Mind you, the Czechs had loaded the defense. You'd see two little Argis trying to do something with the ball, with at least six Czechs about them. And the Czechs weren't exactly small. But at that age, size is just height - it doesn't really slow you down. Big in build, but I suppose their muscles aren't all that heavy yet.
Though I'm convinced the Czech 'keeper is massive. [Random stuff here as I was trying to figure out why his goalkick motion bothered me - turns out his supporting leg is too far behind the ball, meaning he has to reach to kick the ball. Brute strength gives him a massive distance, but really, he can't kick.] He seemed agile enough, but the amount of times the Argis would give the ball to him made his job somewhat easy. I fear that he's only going to get bigger, so I hope that he limits his weight work and focuses on agility.
Back to the kids - one kid who I thought had lots of spunk was a second half sub for Argi. Hard to miss visually with his head of curls and crazy bandaged up face. #20 I think - Acosta?
He came onto the pitch full of instructions from the coach/technical director and then he'd be all over the park - but in a good way. Favourite moment was when one of our players was fouled and a couple of our kids went to argue to the ref. For f@%&'s sake! We're losing! (Kinda.) Let's get on with the match!!!
And along comes Acosta - not to argue with the ref though. No, he grabs one of his team-mate's hands and pulls him away from the ref. Then he comes back and pulls the other one away. Clever boy. :) Cute too, like seeing two little schoolkids in their matching uniforms and holding hands because their teacher told them too. Well, we had that in primary school so that someone always knew where you were. And I suppose it's easier to count pairs than heaps of individuals.
So I like Acosta from that moment on - spunk AND brains. I hope he's well looked after and developed properly as a player. He's got a good head by the looks of it. And as important as time-wasting can be (and I am such a fan of it too), it's also important knowing when NOT to waste time.
[Random rubbish about the only comment I yelled out at the Richmond match I attended the Friday before I left about letting the other team waste time while you're losing. Back to Acosta...]
There was a little bit of a save he made too, which I'd kinda forgotten about, since I only remembered the keeper's error instead. A Czech had broken through and the 'keeper (Romero) came out - off his line, right out of the box. No man's land. He went for the ball, but instead of smothering the ball with his body, he came out and tried to tackle with his feet - like any field player would. Trouble is, it didn;t exactly come naturally to him and the Czech got past.
By this time two Argis had come down, Acosta one of them - he must've run the length of the pitch! It had been a counter of sorts and I suppose Acosta could run that length so quickly as he had fresh legs. The Czech shot, trying to get the ball in front of the two Argi 'defenders', but Acosta was too fast. Love that kid already. :)
I found this Youtube of match highlights. You won't see the first Argi attempt, or Acosta leading his team-mates away, but you can see the second attempt and that awesome run. Watch for the bandaged head at the edge of the box at about 7:30 after the Argi corner.
Anyway, we're now playing the Czech Republic in the final. I'm scared. If it stays as a 0-0 draw... have you seen the Czech boys penalty kicks? The kind of kick where even if the goalkeeper catches it, he goes in the goals too!