From disaster to delight: Socceroos snatch vital win

John Davidson Roar Guru

By John Davidson, John Davidson is a Roar Guru

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    Archie Thompson celebrates the winning goal with Tim Cahill during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Iraq and Australia in Doha, Qatar. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)

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    Like a thief in the night, the Socceroos have fought back from a goal down to post a crucial 2-1 victory over Iraq and breath life into Australia’s World Cup dreams.

    There was drama, there was concern, and then there was disaster. And then, like many key Socceroo matches, there was some elation provided by two of the old guard.

    Best mates Tim Cahill and Archie Thompson popped up to nod home two quick-fire goals late in the match to put Australia in equal second spot in our World Cup qualifying group at the halfway point.

    And to save a nation’s blushes.

    The corner flag took the kind of pounding that Mike Tyson used to give out in his prime, and the Iraqis were crushed. With 10 minutes left in the match, they had held a 1-0 lead after a clinical goal scored on the break in the 72nd minute.

    Heartbreak beckoned for the Socceroos.

    But in stepped veterans Cahill and Thompson to resurrect the Socceroos and beleagured coach Holger Osieck with six minutes left.

    This was a match that once again showed the fighting spirit and never-give-up attitude that personifies the Socceroos. It was a backs-against-the wall performance.

    The Socceroos started promisingly, with Matt McKay at left back and no room for Mark Bresciano in the starting XI.

    There was an early header chance to Alex Brosque, while Robbie Kruse and Cahill were lively in the opening exchanges. The first half finished 0-0, with Australia dominating possession but struggling to create clear-cut chances.

    Iraq had threatened on the counter and they started the better in the second half.

    Luke Wilkshire almost gave a penalty in the 49th minute, and then the Socceroos should have potted a goal after two good opportunities. Cahill laid off the ball for Jedinak, who blazed wide, and then McKay cut the ball back from Kruse who fired a wayward shot.

    Lucas Neill was also a bit lucky not to receive a red card after tugging the shot of an Iraqi attacker on goal.

    Australia would rue the missed opportunities when a poor pass led to the loss of the ball in midfield and a long ball caught us out.

    Iraq finished easily to go 1-0 up and the dark clouds appeared.

    Thompson then came on for Brosque and after that Tommy Oar made his way on the field for Kruse.

    Both substitutes played a big part in the Socceroos revival.

    After Cahill – yet again Australia’s hero – scored from a corner, ageless Archie made a fantastic run into the box. Oar, who had looked good with little time to show his wares, floated a beautiful cross in and Thompson rose to glance it home.

    The EuroSport commentator stated that the Socceroos had stolen victory “from the jaws of the defeat”, and this wasn’t far off the truth.

    Australia’s road to Brazil is on track, but only just. Neill and Valeri both picked up yellows and miss the next match.

    The Socceroos have four matches to play, three of which are at home, and are on equal second points with Oman on 5. Japan top the group with 10 points.

    Australia again struggled to create goal-scoring opportunities and to open up their opposition.

    While Spiranovic was solid and McKay good in defence, Valeri and Jedinak as a pairing does not work in central midfield.

    Both won a lot of ball, and in general, the Socceroos dominated possession. But they are far too defensive-minded and the final pass usually went missing.

    For the next game, Ognenvoski will most probably come in at the back and either Bresciano or Holland in the middle.

    Space should also be found for Oar.

    He showed enough, with his skills and turn of pace, and he deserves more of an opportunity.

    Australia’s lack of a real striker was again glaring. Brosque was ineffectual for long periods and Cahill, who always tried hard, has never been an out and out forward.

    Thompson, who has now scored three goals from the past three games, showed the ability of a real goal-poacher, and shoved two fingers up those who had criticized him.

    His form has backed up his selection and demonstrated the lack of goals in this Australian team – scoring three on each occasion in limited minutes off the bench.

    The Socceroos remain a work in progress but they leave Qatar with their head’s held high and with all three points for the first time in this qualifying competition.

    They might not have one foot on the plane to Brazil yet, more like four toes. But they have given the kiss of life to a stuttering campaign at a time when it was needed more than ever.

    Twitter: @johnnyddavidson

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    The Crowd Says (121)

    • Editor

      October 17th 2012 @ 5:15am
      Tristan Rayner said | October 17th 2012 @ 5:15am | ! Report

      Here’s the relevant table after four games of the final round of World Cup Qualifing:

      Group B Team P W D L GD Pts
      Japan 4 3 1 0 10 10
      Australia 4 1 2 1 0 5
      Oman 4 1 2 1 -2 5
      Jordan 4 1 1 2 -6 4
      Iraq 4 0 2 2 -2 2
    • October 17th 2012 @ 5:36am
      Kel said | October 17th 2012 @ 5:36am | ! Report

      Excellent article that captures the match perfectly. Great game with everything in it – not recommended if you have high blood pressure as it is a rollercoaster! I hope that Australian selectors and Holger Osieck read this match report and face some facts of life about some of the players.

    • October 17th 2012 @ 7:24am
      Worlds biggest said | October 17th 2012 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Great win lads, much needed points !

    • October 17th 2012 @ 7:43am
      Bondy. said | October 17th 2012 @ 7:43am | ! Report

      Did that performance put to bed any concerns you had for qualification for Brasil ?. Do supporters have a right after a win to still be concerned about the age and speed of the players ?. Does it or can it look like some players just have a mortage on the national team geurnsey and potentilly is that healthy for our youth to see players represent Australia for 12 years no questions asked. Just putting hypotheticals out there.

      It was a solid win though that I conceed.

      • October 17th 2012 @ 8:16am
        Kasey said | October 17th 2012 @ 8:16am | ! Report

        I have been consistent in my criticism of Archie Thompson it wasn’t based on his likeability(low due to his domestic club) but more that Holger started picking him when he was in woeful form(zero goals in 6+ months) , but now coming off the bench he has scored 2 from 2 mostly off the bench – so Holger looks like a tactical genius doesn’t he?

        This morning’s game didn’t really address any of my concerns tbh.
        The age question is raised when it is obvious that the players that are being selected are not getting any better with age, just slower and more ponderous. I just don’t seem to have the wonderous joy I used to get watching my national team play. Now it seems almost like a chore that I as a football fan must endure. I want to be excited and inspired to buy plane tickets to wherever in the world we are playing.

        They work hard, that is not in question, but as we continue our journey into becoming a proper football country expect that after 2 almost identical (1W,1D,1L)performances in Germany(Rof16)and then South Africa(3&out), IMO the fans are entitled to ask, where is the improvement going to come from?

        • October 17th 2012 @ 8:25am
          AGO74 said | October 17th 2012 @ 8:25am | ! Report

          It is very rare I agree with Robbie Slater but I thought his comments after the Archie Thompson i/v were spot on. (He said a lot of the same things as you Kasey).

          • October 17th 2012 @ 8:46am
            Kasey said | October 17th 2012 @ 8:46am | ! Report

            I missed Wobbie’s remarks, as discretion was the better part of valour for me and for once sleep > AUSNT and I recharged my batteries. Odd that we’d have similar thoughts…like you AGO74 it seems to be a cold day in Hell that Bulldog and I are on the same page.

    • October 17th 2012 @ 7:45am
      Stevo said | October 17th 2012 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      Stolen victory from the jaws of defeat – how would Sweden’s effort against Germany this morning be described? Took the dog out for a jog at 4:0 for Germany early in 2 nd half and just come back with 4:4 at FT. What happened?

      • October 17th 2012 @ 9:12am
        Punter said | October 17th 2012 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        Likewise, 4-0 down I let my daughter change over to Sunrise to watch that Korean popstar then I found out 4-4 & cannot find a replay anywhere.

        • October 17th 2012 @ 9:33am
          c said | October 17th 2012 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          Gangnam Style is pretty good though 🙂

          • October 17th 2012 @ 11:50am
            Punter said | October 17th 2012 @ 11:50am | ! Report

            Yes, so I’m told!!!!

      • October 17th 2012 @ 11:23am
        Matt F said | October 17th 2012 @ 11:23am | ! Report

        Incredible finish. Actually there were many fantastic games overnight. France scored a last minute equaliser against Spain as well. Then of course we have the Poland/England match postponed due to rain depsite the fact that the stadium has a roof!

        • October 17th 2012 @ 11:27am
          Kasey said | October 17th 2012 @ 11:27am | ! Report

          Matt F can you elaborate on the POL/ENG p-p please? did the roof fail? I’m imagining a NFL MInnesota Vikings stadium type failure.

          • October 17th 2012 @ 11:53am
            Matt F said | October 17th 2012 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            No this was human error rather than a structural problem. It’s a retractable roof and for some bizarre reason the officials decided that the weather forecast didn’t warrant closing the roof… naturally the rain ended up being so heavy that the pitch was flooded and the game postponed 🙂

            It’s been rescheduled until tomorrow (4pm Wednesday in Poland so I’m assuming that’s sometime tomorrow morning here) but there’s talk that it might not even be ready by then.

            I’m not sure why you’d build a stadium with a roof if you don’t plan to actually use it……

            • October 17th 2012 @ 12:09pm
              Kasey said | October 17th 2012 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

              I gather the away fan contingent will not be compensated as I cant see how a regular worker would be able to get back to Poland for the rescheduled game.

              18 months ago we played Wales in an international friendly and I distinctly remember the rumours around the announcement of the game being a chance for us to play England once again after 2003’s famous victory at Boleyn Ground.

              My boss reminded me at performance review that I needed to to reduce my leave balance so I decided to fly to the UK for the game. The morning I landed was the Monday after the riots in Tottenham occurred. Police from all over the UK were drafted in to calm things down. This meant that the ENG v NED friendly at Wembley had to be postponed indefinitely.

              I remember being thankful we were playing the lil ol Welsh! It was alright for the Dutchies, they could pop back across the channel as easily as a Sydney-sider uses the Manly ferry. I’d travelled 11,000kms for a friendly!

              • October 17th 2012 @ 1:01pm
                Matt F said | October 17th 2012 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

                The perils of being a football fan 🙂

                Haven’t heard anything re compensation for the fans but you’re probably right. I imagine there are a few very angry England fans right now. Probably a few Polish fans as well given the 4pm k/o time

    • October 17th 2012 @ 7:54am
      DC of nz said | October 17th 2012 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      Thanks for the nice article johnny !

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