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The Good, the Bad & the Ugly: Jordan v Socceroos

by Ben Somerford on Nov 15, 2019

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You might call it lucky or fortunate. But you could also call it hard-fought, gritty or resolute. Whichever way inclined you are, the Socceroos got the win in Jordan.

Australia is now five points clear at the halfway mark in their group in the early stages of 2022 World Cup qualifying.

Four games, four wins, 16 goals, one conceded and three home matches to come. You cannot argue with that.

Yet there is a concerned element among the football fraternity.

It is widely agreed this team isn’t as strong as previous generations.

Largely, expectations have been adjusted although we still always expect World Cup qualification.

Thursday’s display wasn’t the side’s best, particularly the second half, but Australia beat an opponent in their home conditions for the first time in four attempts.

GGArmy’s Ben Somerford reflects on the highs and lows of Thursday’s win.

The Good
We won. Australia had lost to Jordan on three occasions in West Asia, once at January’s Asian Cup in UAE and twice in Amman. To not lose, to keep a clean sheet and to win is very, very commendable.

Adam Taggart showed the hosts how it’s done and took his chance when it came to him. Australia’s Premier League pair Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy starred as they should in tests like this, leading the way for their side.

Jordan had their chances in the final 45, with Ryan producing some top saves. A better side likely would have converted one or two of these opportunities. I can’t deny that. But Australia beat who was in front of them and that’s the key right now.

The Bad
Aimless crosses are becoming an issue for Australia. Awer Mabil and Brad Smith were guilty of wasteful balls on numerous occasions. Ange Postecoglou used to preach that aimlessly whipping a ball into the box was simply a cheap way of handing the opposition possession. More composure is needed.

Mabil is an interesting case study in this regard. He’s got tricks and he’s got confidence. He’s likely got a licence to back himself but often that leads to turnovers and fan frustration. On the weekend his pinpoint cross set up his FC Midtjylland teammate perfectly for a goal, yet that finesse went missing in Jordan.

When Martin Boyle came on off the bench, there was a different spark and it was exciting. Boyle is willing to take on opponents to good effect. He beats them and whips in crosses which worry the defence, often drilled or low. Now he’s fit again, expect him to get a starting XI chance, although he’ll have to wait five months until our next match in March.

The Ugly
Given Australia’s position in qualifying, it’s hard to be too dissatisfied. As mentioned earlier, there is a sense of discontent and concern about the team’s performances under coach Graham Arnold but I’m not buying into that at this stage.

Arnold’s tenure as coach is barely 18 months old. He’s had to battle injuries and we’re working through the dullest part of qualifying where the level of opposition is low, meaning motivation for the squad can be a challenge. It’s easy as a fan to look at the FIFA Rankings ahead of each game and expect five-goal wins and clean sheets. That’s unrealistic and disrespectful. Football just doesn’t work that way.

Why do we get so concerned about our performances at this stage? It feels like we all want style and substance. And we want it now. We’re seldom satisfied. It’s the ugly side of Australian football. Let’s enjoy the wins.