The Roar
The Roar


Baccus, Rowles net first goals as Socceroos cruise past Lebanon but Arnie sweats on injuries

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21st March, 2024

The Socceroos are on the verge of advancing to the third round of AFC 2026 World Cup qualifying after a 2-0 victory over Lebanon at CommBank Stadium. Keanu Baccus and Kye Rowles each scored their first goals for the national team as Australia cruised to an easy win.

Three points for Graham Arnold’s side in their next fixture, also against Lebanon in Canberra on Tuesday, will seal their progression to the next stage.

It was not all rosy for Australia, however, as Riley McGree and Jordan Bos were both forced off due to injury in the first half. There was no immediate update on either player at full-time.

“No, I can’t,” Arnold said post-game when asked if he was able to confirm the status of McGree and Bos.

“I have to wait for the medical staff to take a look at them. Riley’s in a boot at the moment and Jordy’s got (his meniscus) strapped. No doubt, they’ll go and get a scan tomorrow sometime and we’ll find out what the diagnosis is.

“I’d say both are out (for Tuesday’s rematch).”

Arnold would not be drawn on whether the surface, which looked heavy in patches, was a factor in either player’s injury.

“I can’t comment on that,” Arnold said.


It didn’t take Australia long to hit the front in Parramatta, with Keanu Baccus netting within the first five minutes. Taking possession on the right wing, the St Mirren midfielder’s seemingly mishit cross instead flew into the top corner to open the scoring.

Arnold was forced into an early change, with former Melbourne City man Jordan Bos called on to replace the injured Riley McGree after just 16 minutes of play. McGree’s foot was caught in the pitch and there was no contact, and the Middlesbrough playmaker looked visibly perturbed by the surface.

A deflected Kusini Yengi effort almost deceived Mostafa Matar but the Lebanon gloveman was able to scramble across and dive on the ball.

Bos went down after heavy contact but could continue after receiving medical attention. Just minutes later, however, Bos hit the turf once more and was this time forced off, lasting only 25 minutes as a sub before being replaced by Ajdin Hrustic at the back end of the first half.

Comfortably controlling possession but lacking cutting edge, the Socceroos were unable to add to their slim advantage as the half-time whistle rang out at CommBank Stadium.


Not to be outdone by Baccus, it was Kye Rowles’ turn to notch his first Socceroos goal nine minutes into the second half when the big centre-back cooly hit a half-volley past Matar following a corner-kick.

A rarity on the night, Mat Ryan was called upon to turn away Ali Tneich’s speculative effort from a tight angle.

Arnold, already forced into two changes earlier, then utilised his bench for the third and final time as Mitch Duke and John Iredale replaced Yengi and Adam Taggart.

In cruise control now the Socceroos were happy to maintain the ball and let their outclassed opponents try to win back possession.

Lebanon almost managed to peg Australia back after a poor giveaway led to a chance for Daniel Kuri, the substitute’s strike beating Ryan but bouncing back off the post.

A late free-kick on the edge of the area gave Lebanon another chance but Ryan was again up to the task.

It ended 2-0 in Parramatta as Australia extended their lead in Group I to seven points ahead of Lebanon with the Palestine-Bangladesh clash to come Friday morning (AEDT).


(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Socceroos and Lebanon will meet again in the nation’s capital on Tuesday evening, where a win will guarantee Australia’s place in the third round of AFC 2026 World Cup qualifying.