With the best starting eleven largely unavailable Australia took to the pitch with the last standing eleven. These players and even Arnold seem to be lacking passion. We knew we wouldn’t be seeing Mooy, Leckie, and Boyle and, but the last minute loss of Nabbout, was just the icing on the cake.
All the pundits were predicting a comfortable win for Australia; these games always make me nervous, because the opposite often occurs. However going in with a squad that realistically isn’t made up of our first choices; this phrase bothers me even more! Our striker Maclaren has never scored for Australia, and scored his last goal for his club back in August, let’s hope he finds some Asian Cup form.
Jordan came out with a nothing to lose mentality, as the underdog of the game. In the 26th minute the underdogs showed their teeth, after winning a corner the Jordanians scored off the head of Anas Yaseen (a play we would have seen Cahill pull off for Socceroos back in his day). Jordan’s belief and determination went up another gear meanwhile Australia continued to look lethargic. Jordan were full of energy, chased balls down, didn’t give up, ok they fell over a lot too, but the Socceroos didn’t do any of that.
An appeal for a Jordan hand ball in the 44th minute could have resulted in an Australian penalty, but it wasn’t to be. Could that have provided a turning point for the Aussie’s mentality just before half time? We will never know thanks to no use of VAR until the quarter finals. It sure felt weird seeing Australian fans wanting VAR and lamenting its exclusion, never thought I would see that day!
The Australians couldn’t get in behind the Jordan defence, but if you watched the game you could see that after their goal they often had a backline of five to six players, always going to be hard to breakthrough, but still credit to them for being able to achieve this. Essentially we were out played as we were so slow out on the pitch they could read our next move every time (pass out wide), even our set plays were poorly executed. National team football often plays out like a team of individuals that take a while to learn how each person plays, and to be able to read each other clearly, when you come out with your head down it is hard to lift each other, we need more Australian positivity “she’ll be right mate” and dig deeper.
I fear we could have conceded more than one goal if it had not been for Ryan playing well. Mabil had some good moments, and for a while the introduction of Ikonomidis gave me a few moments of hope, but Jordan had us well covered and we could not capitalise. You can’t say we didn’t have our chances with 77% possession, I guess that is bound to happen when you spend a game passing sideways to try and constantly play wide because you have no one up front ready to pounce and shoot. With 18 attempts on goal, to Jordan’s 10, I had the all too familiar feeling of “where is our striker” or anyone for that matter (I’m not fussy) to finish it off and score goals? With 627 passes surely we could have utilised one of those for a goal!
We have a lot of work to do to if we are going to make it out of the group stage, we cannot keep blaming the injuries we have, we need to work with the players we do have to find some magic, a spark , anything, if we are going to go down we need to at least go down fighting. Let’s hope we find something in time for our second match Friday night.
By Michelle Reid