Unlike the famous Peter Allen song, unfortunately Aussies can’t yet count on making it to Rio for the Football World Cup in Brazil in 2014. After last week’s dismal 2-2 result in Sydney against Oman, Australia has dropped to third in their group and are precariously placed to qualify for a third consecutive World Cup.
Of course the result could’ve been much worse, with the Socceroos coming from two goals down in order to rescue a point. Unfortunately a shock win by Jordan over the high-flying Japanese has meant Group B in the Asian qualifiers is wide open, with only the top two teams guaranteed to progress to the showpiece event in South America next year.
In a sign that the Socceroos “golden generation” is quickly fading, with no promise of a new dawn, the Socceroos have only managed one win and six points from their five qualifying matches to date. While Japan have already virtually assured their place at the next World Cup, any one of Jordan, Oman and Iraq, along with Australia could still claim the vital second place in the group.
Australia’s hopes will hinge on their last three qualifiers, all played in June, in which they must travel to Japan before hosting Jordan and Iraq. They will likely need at least two wins from these games in order to progress.
While the Socceroos dominated possession against Oman, their tactics and formation left them constantly open to counter-attacks from their opposition. The nearly 35,000 crowd at Homebush last week were left stunned when Oman opened the scoring in the sixth minute, after the Aussies gifted away possession and were caught out for pace.
The game was still very much there for the taking at half-time but an own-goal from Mile Jedinak soon after the break made the Socceroos task a whole lot harder. In an unlucky bit of defending, the midfielder deflected a cross into the path of his own net, with keeper Mark Schwarser left stranded to do anything about it.
In typical Aussie spirit, the Socceroos didn’t give up and set about trying to get themselves back in the match. A header from the ever dependable Tim Cahill from a corner pulled one goal back, and a fine strike from Brett Holman soon after restored parity, much to the delight of coach Holger Osieck.
Alas despite having the ascendency in the second half the Socceroos could not find a winner and despite managing to salvage a point, were left to rue the two points dropped they had banked on heading into this important fixture.
In the other Asia qualification group, the Korea Republic are on the verge of booking their place at the tournament, after accounting for 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar 2-1 at home in Seoul. The Koreans are second in their group with a game in hand and are favoured to progress ahead of the final round of qualifiers.
June will be a huge month of international football, with the final matches in the Asia qualifiers taking place. Australia will need their “babies” to smile if they are to make it to Rio and you can be sure we will be cheering them on with our finest pair of maracas at Strathfield Sports Club.