The Socceroos have one foot on the plane to Brazil after an emphatic 4-0 win over Jordan in their World Cup qualifier brought them a step closer to automatic qualification for next year’s tournament. The three points cements Australia’s second place in their Asia qualifying group and means a win against Iraq in next week’s final match in Sydney will guarantee our place at a third consecutive World Cup.
Going into the match with the same starting line-up that earned a point in Japan last week, Australia started the game tentatively in front of a sold-out Etihad Stadium. Content to knock the ball around from the back the Aussies played their way into the game in the opening exchanges. While a Jordanian player staying down after a minor challenge inside four minutes gave an insight to the tactics the Socceroos might be up against.
The incident had coach Holger Osiek complaining to the referee and brought an incensed roar from the crowd but perhaps provided the impetus Australia needed to seek out an early goal. The fans didn’t have to wait long when Robbie Kruse went for a dart down the right wing. Playing on from the referees’ advantage, Kruse was able to pick-out Mark Bresiano with a cut-back pass and the midfielder veteran buried the ball into the back of the net sparking wild celebrations.
Australia went into the break holding their slender advantage. While there was a lot to like about the first-half performance, there was still an air of trepidation around the sea of gold inside the stadium. Fortunately they needn’t had worried as Tim Cahill got the all-important second goal just after the hour mark.
A good initial touch from substitute Archie Thompson allowed Australia to move forward in numbers and after a fine interchange of passing, Robbie Kruse provided an excellent cross that allowed Cahill to head the ball into the back of the net with one of his trademark aerial efforts.
Kruse was on the spot again but did it all himself to secure Australia’s third. He took a neat touch and turned in to the box where he was able to fire past Jordan’s goalkeeper to cap a fine individual performance.
If the result was not already beyond doubt Lucas Neil put an exclamation point on the evening’s proceedings when he registered his first international goal after 17-years in the national side. It was a case of the old guard and next generation of Australian football combining when ex-Central Coast young gun Tom Rogic flicked on a header that allowed his captain to finish from close range with a header of his own.
There was an emphasis on Australia standing shoulder to shoulder for this must-win clash. Captain Lucas Neil calling on the Australian public to get behind the Socceroos for their final two home matches to help them qualify for Brazil. There’s no doubt the weight of a nation’s expectation was on the Socceroos but they delivered their most accomplished performance of the campaign.
Depending on the result when Jordan play Oman in their corresponding fixture next week, it’s possible Australia may not even need to beat Iraq in their final match in order to qualify for Brazil. However the Socceroos destiny is in their own hands so will go in with the mentality it’s a must-win game as they look to put a smile on all Australians’ faces by booking their place in Rio.