Set small text size
Set the default text size
Set large text size
Australia’s 2019 Asian Cup defence has started atrociously with a chastising 1-0 defeat to Jordan in Al Ain.
The Socceroos, the reigning Asian champions and ranked 68 places higher than Jordan, went into the clash confident after an undefeated run of four friendlies under new coach Graham Arnold.
But they fell apart in the UAE sun, crashing to a stunning loss thanks to an Anas Bani Yaseen header in the first half.
The Socceroos clearly missed the poise and composure of midfielder Aaron Mooy, as well as the attacking threats of Mathew Leckie, Daniel Arzani and Martin Boyle against their Middle Eastern opponents.
Jordan parked the bus from the kick off effectively, stifling and frustrating the Australian attack.
Despite enjoying 73 per cent possession in the first half, the Socceroos struggled to fashion clear-cut chances.
The Chivalrous took the lead on 27 minutes after Yaseen’s terrific header into the top corner. They almost took a two-goal lead but for the excellent goalkeeping of Mat Ryan.
Australia laid siege to the Jordanian goal but Amer Shaefi swatted away cross after cross like flies. The Socceroos also had a legitimate penalty shout for handball waved away.
In the second half the green and gold started more brightly, with Rhyan Grant replacing Josh Risdon at right back.
The Socceroos built more pressure and put Jordan on the backfoot. Chris Ikonomidis and Jackson Irvine were then brought on for Robbie Kruse and Massimo Luongo.
Shafei was called into action to stop a Tom Rogic strike than Ikonomidis’ follow up. Awer Mabil made inroads down the right flank and almost fashioned an equalizer.
Jordan remained dangerous on the break and battled hard to protect their one-goal buffer. They had their own legitimate claim for a handball from Aziz Behich waved away in the 77th minute.
With four minutes left Jamie Maclaren bundled the ball in, but his goal was chalked off for offside. The match ended with the Socceroos firing shot after shot on the Jordanian goal to no avail.
Australia’s 2019 Asian Cup campaign is now in trouble after just one match. They face Palestine next in desperate need of a win.