The Socceroos are halfway to Russia

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    The Socceroos have only themselves to blame if they fail to beat an extremely limited Honduras in front of a sell-out crowd at ANZ Stadium to reach the World Cup in Russia.

    Only one team looked like they couldn’t handle the pressure at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, and it was Honduras.

    It became immediately apparent that playing passing football on an absolute sponge of a pitch in San Pedro Sula would prove impossible, but the Australian back three – or is it a back five, Ange? – easily dealt with the long diagonal balls chipped into the corners from Honduras’ attack.

    And the Socceroos could have taken the lead when referee Daniele Orsato clearly awarded a penalty just before the 20-minute mark, only for the decision to be inexplicably overturned.

    We can argue all we like about the merits of awarding a spot-kick, but the letter of the law is that if a goalkeeper ploughs through the back of an attacking player, it’s a penalty.

    You rarely see them given, so it was a surprise when Orsato pointed to the spot – but it was even more of a surprise when the decision was suddenly overturned for no discernible reason.

    If it was ruled out for offside then it was a shocking decision, because one of the Hondurans – it was hard to catch who – was playing all of the Australians onside.

    Even allowing for another baffling refereeing decision at international level, the Socceroos still should have seen off the Hondurans comfortably in a game that ultimately finished scoreless.

    If Tomi Juric had his time again, he would surely have taken another touch when he charged through one on one with Honduras goalkeeper Donis Escober.

    The ball may have taken a horrible bobble on an absolute cow paddock of a pitch, but in truth Juric largely butchered his big moment.

    He later headed an effort straight at Escober when it looked easier to put it in either corner, and the Socceroos will hope that such key moments in the tie don’t come back to haunt them.

    They shouldn’t though, because Australia mostly bossed Honduras on their home turf – the difficult conditions notwithstanding.

    Massimo Luongo took the initiative more than once, driving towards the heart of the Honduras defence instead of passing responsibility off to a teammate in a wide area, and he was almost rewarded early on when Escober scooped Luongo’s low drive wide.

    He also cut the ball back just after the hour mark, only to somehow dissect two Australian teammates waiting to tap the ball in.

    Aziz Behich was another noteworthy contributor, while the return of skipper Mile Jedinak gave the Socceroos some much-needed steel in midfield.

    But having failed to score an all-important away goal in San Pedro Sula, the trick now is to avoid getting hit on the counter-attack in front of a packed ANZ Stadium in Homebush.

    Mat Ryan was really only troubled once by substitute Carlo Costly at the Metropolitano, but the Socceroos can ill-afford any moments of complacency when it all comes down to a do-or-die final leg.

    And it’s probably about time the Socceroos demonstrated some self-belief in front of their own fans, after they ventured to the great unknown of Honduras and handled the away leg with aplomb.

    For all the talk of hostile atmospheres, the Socceroos never looked unduly troubled in the heat and humidity of northern Honduras.

    Instead, it should be 80,000 fans in Sydney who help get the Socceroos over the line, and having done it once before against Uruguay in 2005, we know exactly what it takes to book a ticket to Russia.

    The Socceroos are halfway there – even if the lack of an away goal could spell trouble in the return leg.

    If there’s nothing to fear but fear itself, then a measured performance in San Pedro Sula suggests the Socceroos have nothing to fear at all.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (172)

    • Roar Guru

      November 11th 2017 @ 10:58am
      tully101 said | November 11th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

      Good result, but disappointing not to have a 1-0 or 2-0 lead, story of the qualification I guess

    • Roar Guru

      November 11th 2017 @ 11:02am
      Ben of Phnom Penh said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:02am | ! Report

      Leave the likes of Risdon & Behich in the wing-back roles and let the likes of Leckie indulge their attacking instincts and we should be in for a treat. The Hondurans will be hurting and the difference in the management of logistics is likely to have a marked impact on their respective conditioning come Sydney.

      • November 11th 2017 @ 12:20pm
        Jack said | November 11th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

        Fresh Leckie Milligan and rogic will be huge

    • November 11th 2017 @ 11:06am
      tonyBBB said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      even if there are 80000 fans at anz stadium (which I strongly doubt) the atmosphere will be extremely flat.

      syria and thailand games (even the japan game in melbourne) were absolute libraries

      • November 11th 2017 @ 11:23am
        Nemesis said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

        But, at least we can all look forward to you mouthing off nonsense on these forums.

        • November 11th 2017 @ 11:29am
          tonyBBB said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

          So what are you denying the atmosphere was close to dead for the Syria and Thailand matches?

          Must win games, yet the stadium fails to sell out. Crowd sounded like preseason friendly.

          You mouth off the most non sense mate if you reckon Socceroos games do not have terrible atmosphere. What a spud

          • November 11th 2017 @ 2:41pm
            Mitcher said | November 11th 2017 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

            Well hopefully we can count on you to be out there creating a frenzy in the crowd.

            The Hondurans sure as sh!t aren’t going to be intimidated, or aware, of your sports forum blazes.

            Get out there Tones! Give em hell!!!

          • November 11th 2017 @ 2:42pm
            Mitcher said | November 11th 2017 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

            Tony putting his hand up for capo duties at the game. Give em hell mate!

          • November 11th 2017 @ 5:31pm
            Andy said | November 11th 2017 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

            I attended the Socceroos japan match a few years back at Suncorp the atmosphere was amazing! One of the best events I’ve been to, have been to origin nrl grand final selhurst Park and the Jeff horn pacciao fight and it was at least equal to all of those

            • November 12th 2017 @ 9:06am
              kevin said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

              Was threre also, the whole southern stand upper levels were filled with the japanses cheer squad… drums etc

              Infact the crowd was nealy 40% Japanese..

              They scraemed something like ” jamatta” ( see you later i think ) when an aussie was shown red, it was pretty cool ..

              Honda cut us to pieces that night

        • November 11th 2017 @ 12:58pm
          Tony said | November 11th 2017 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

          Why not hope for it to be like the Uruguay game? More of a like-for-like. 2nd leg of a playoff. Do or die. Latin American opponent easily painted as a villain. I was there. Atmosphere was incredible.

          Clearly the Thailand and Syria games were not “must win”. If they were, we wouldn’t still be in it.

          • November 11th 2017 @ 1:14pm
            tonyBBB said | November 11th 2017 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

            Wow.

            Tells you all about the passion of the Socceroos fans then.

            Really pathetic. So many “fake fans going to events” rather than true football fans.

            • November 11th 2017 @ 1:41pm
              punter said | November 11th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

              Australians generally don’t make noise at sporting events.

              • November 11th 2017 @ 2:33pm
                Waz said | November 11th 2017 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

                They don’t. It’s not all that long ago that they didn’t wear team shirts either. I remember a British Lions tour (16 years ago?) in a Sydney pub with some aussies taking the micky out of Lions supporters for wearing the Lions team shirt – looked dumb the next night when the stadium was a sea of red. We are, by tradition, very conservative sports supporters and when we try, we try too hard – like in the tennis lol.

    • November 11th 2017 @ 11:11am
      Drongo said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

      Was Jedinak really that good? Thought he had a pretty poor game, seemed to have trouble positioning himself and some badly aimed passes. Maybe I am being too harsh, but don’t we expect more from him?

      • November 11th 2017 @ 11:11am
        Fadida said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        He was very good

        • November 11th 2017 @ 11:13am
          Drongo said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

          Ok, I will watch it again and look for the magic.

          • November 11th 2017 @ 11:23am
            Fadida said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

            You won’t find any”magic”

            • November 11th 2017 @ 11:50am
              AGO74 said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

              No magic is the trademark of a “water carrier” like Jedinak. He was very good – a game like today was made for his skill set and he did very well.

              • Roar Rookie

                November 11th 2017 @ 12:07pm
                Stevo said | November 11th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

                Amen to that.

              • November 11th 2017 @ 3:50pm
                Drongo said | November 11th 2017 @ 3:50pm | ! Report

                Maybe we have a few too many “water carriers” and not enough Tim’s to win these games?

      • November 11th 2017 @ 11:19am
        Realfootball said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

        Yep, even I admit he was good today.

        • November 11th 2017 @ 11:51am
          AGO74 said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

          There is a good balance at base of midfield with both luongo and jedinak.

      • November 11th 2017 @ 11:53am
        LuckyEddie said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

        No bad passing and very limited skills is what we expect from him, that’s all he has got. Surely one of the least talented footballers ever to play EPL. I still cannot fathom how this bloke has got so rich and so far in football. Would struggle to get a gig at Central Coast.

        • November 11th 2017 @ 4:04pm
          Drongo said | November 11th 2017 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

          Ok, but he kicked a pass 15 metres over the sideline on the full near the end there and twice when we were in possession he ran towards his own player and did not provide a viable passing alternative. It just looked sort of awkward. I support the guy and the team but thought we should be taking our chances better and winning games like that. And that doesn’t just rely on our attackers putting every chance in the net, it also depends on how the whole team plays to set up those chances. Watching the game left me with a feeling of disappointment, not elation that we managed a draw from a game we really should have won.
          Not much point being in Russia just to make up the numbers.

      • November 11th 2017 @ 12:13pm
        Cool N Cold said | November 11th 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

        Aggg…..

        From the video clips on youtube, Honduras team played long balls. So, it was good to have Jedinak there. However, he should be replaced by Mark Miligan at the start or some time later in the Sydney match because Milligan can deal with high balls well too.

        • November 11th 2017 @ 1:56pm
          Brainstrust said | November 11th 2017 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

          Milligan has taken all the easy well payed options in his career and looks much poorer for it.
          He fades away in the second half these days, he even looks much weaker than he used to be.
          Jedinak might only have a fraction of the ability, and Milligan would not have looked out of place at any top European club , but you have to choose the more professional and hard working one in Jedinak..

    • Roar Guru

      November 11th 2017 @ 11:15am
      Griffo said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:15am | ! Report

      Agree that defensively when we could, we had numbers in the back line.

      I can’t say Honduras troubled us too many times on the counter, although the first half on the right was looking like a different story, it didn’t eventuate for the whole match.

      Perhaps Irvine will make way for Leckie? Luongo and Behich had great games and should be in if recovered. Rogic may either be benched or come on for Mooy to start. A lot of options for Ange.

      Jedinak had his moments but with time and some space was effective defensively and at times bringing the ball out.

      Perhaps Timmy will start as a lone striker instead of Juric and we might see a couple of goals from the most famous noggin’ in Australian football history.

      There would be no shame in that.

      This game should be shown to football admins and ground staff in Australia. That pitch was a hindrance for the home team imo although it did save a goal from Juric’s one-on-one in first half. We might not offer good pitches at various times but that is a lesson in how to even out your chances in a cruicial World Cup playoff…

    • November 11th 2017 @ 11:16am
      Nemesis said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

      Wonderful work by Ange & the lads. Easy for us to be sitting on our couches in Australia.

      2 hours ago, I’m sure every single fan would’ve grabbed the 0-0 option.

      • November 11th 2017 @ 11:18am
        tonyBBB said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

        cool story fuss

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