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Australia should respond strongly to opening loss

sports Updated: Jun 19, 2010 00:52 IST
Lothar Matthaus

Australia will be missing the influential Tim Cahill for what is a ‘can’t afford to lose’ match against Ghana. Cahill is one of the players most likely to get them a goal but in Harry Kewell they have an experienced forward to step in. In all sports, Australians have a strong mentality and I expect them to respond positively to the crushing defeat by Germany. They have an excellent record against Ghana who got off to a good start in winning the opener against Serbia.

The African team has good pace and power, and in midfielders Muntari and Appiah they have good ability and experience, while goalkeeper Kingson, with John Menhsa and John Pantsil, provide a decent defence. If they have a weakness it’s in scoring goals. A draw would suit Ghana and I expect them to play a cautious game while the Australians must attack. Like Ghana however, especially without Cahill, Australia are stronger defensively and not so good in scoring goals. One goal could decide this game either way.

The Netherlands have a team full of individual ability and rich in experience, and protect a record of 20 unbeaten games. Defensively sound, they have an outstanding midfield with Van Bommel, Sneijder, Van der Vaart and De Jong, and an incisive attack in Van Persie and Kuyt. They took time to impose themselves upon Denmark but stepped up in the second-half to record a deserved 2-0 win. They are a formidable team.

Japan defeated Cameroon showing that they have the ability to compete against physically strong opponents. They will rely upon captain Yuji Nakazawa and playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura, and midfielder Keisuke Honda who scored the winner against Cameroon.

A draw for Japan would be a good enough result and I expect them to play a compact game, try to frustrate the Dutch, and hit them on the counterattack. For The Netherlands, a win will take them through and I expect that they will have the quality to take the three points.

Having lost their opening games, both Cameroon and Denmark have to win if they are to retain any hope of qualification. Cameroon particularly will be disappointed with their performance