Socceroos fans point out the biggest problem with today’s pivotal clash against the UAE that could end our World Cup dream for good.
Australia’s World Cup campaign is on the line this morning in their clash against the UAE.
A loss will prevent the Socceroos from qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Qatar, while a win keeps their dream alive and sends them on a collision course with Peru next week for a one-off, do-or-die game.
At halftime in Doha it was 0-0 and there were worrying signals for the Socceroos, who failed to get a shot on target in the first 45 minutes.
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But seven minutes into the second half, they drew first blood. A messy turnover high on the pitch saw Martin Boyle find possession and then put on a nice speed turn to burn past a pair of defenders from the right wing into the penalty area.
He slid into a pass that found Jackson Irvine ghosted to the nearest post and he turned the ball cleanly in with his first touch from close range.
Former professional footballer Rob Cornthwaite tweeted about the goal: “That was pure luck, but we’ll take it. Atkinson basically hobbled his way forward. He has a shock.”
Unfortunately, the joy did not last long. Less than three minutes after Irvine’s strike, the UAE hit back with an equalizing goal.
Harib Abdalla Suhail, the United Arab Emirates’ most powerful assault weapon ever, once again wreaked havoc on the left, skinning Bailey Wright and netting a cross. The ball bounced off Irvine, who couldn’t clear the danger as his line of sight was blocked, when Caio Canedo shot his goal into the roof of the net to make it 1-1.
Just after the hour, Australia had a golden opportunity to retake the lead, only for an unmarked Craig Goodwin to hit his first shot from close range over the crossbar as he drifted to the back post and received a nice cross from Irvine.
The UAE then got another chance of their own as they rushed forward into the penalty area, only for some desperate blockades to prevent them from getting a meaningful shot away.
Graham Arnold’s men started the proceedings cautiously, perhaps with a conservative approach after two late blows before kick-off when Trent Sainsbury and Adam Taggart were injured.
Goodwin’s free kick from just outside the area was handled comfortably by UAE goalkeeper Khalid Eisa and the men in green and gold went to work quietly and looked slicker early on.
Boyle showed an entrepreneurial spirit with the ball, but the first 30 minutes were marked by the feeling that both teams were trying not to lose the game rather than to win it.
Aaron Mooy pulled back in midfield and made a noticeable difference as much of the Socceroos attack went through the stylish 31-year-old.
The UAE were happy to sit back, but started to pack some punch in the last 15 minutes of the first half. Ali Mabkhout started to come into prominence, but Australia had the best chance of the half, only to an unmarked Kye Rowles who mistimed his header.
Mat Ryan had to make a strong save on his near post as Harib Suhail Al Maazmi charged into the penalty area from the left wing while Nathaniel Atkinson struggled at right back in the first stanza.
The lack of attacking spark from Australia caused frustration among many viewers on social media.
Soccer host and reporter Michelle Escobar tweeted: “Both teams are so careful and it’s going to be a terrible game. One of the worst performances of Socceroos. So painful to watch.”
The second half started with Harib Abdalla Suhail storming down from the left and opening again, taking advantage of Atkinson’s uneasiness as his shot was cleverly saved by Ryan, who was safely down on his nearest post.
Bailey Wright and Rowles started in the center of defense due to the absence of Sainsbury, meaning the Aussies had a couple in the back that hadn’t been used in this World Cup qualifying campaign before.
Originally published as Live: Socceroos vs UAE in World Cup Qualifier