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

by Ben Somerford on Jan 12, 2019

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Back on track? Perhaps. The Socceroos’ 3-0 win Asian Cup over Palestine on Friday night ticked a lot of boxes restoring much belief ahead of Tuesday night’s final group game against Syria.

We shouldn’t get too carried away with a comfortable victory over a team ranked 99th in the world and whom hadn’t won in their past five matches. But there were positives which was needed after the lacklustre defeat to Jordan.

The obvious one was Jamie Maclaren breaking his international goal duck, which hopefully will open the floodgates for the former A-League Golden Boot winner.

GGArmy’s Ben Somerford ponders the good, the bad and the ugly from Friday’s win.

The Good
The elevation of in-form Perth Glory winger Chris Ikonomidis into the starting XI at Robbie Kruse’s expense will please a lot of Socceroos fans.

Ikonomidis was named Player of the Match after providing two assists, although there was a scary moment late in the game when he pulled up lame after a shot from range. Don’t worry, he was probably time-wasting (that’s okay if done by an Australian, right?), played on and set up the third goal.

The ex-Lazio man’s impact off the bench against Jordan on Sunday was encouraging but his display against Palestine delivered on his promise, when avenues to goal were being questioned. He is a breath of fresh air for the Socceroos along with second goal scorer Awer Mabil who plays a fearless, albeit sometimes naïve, brand which adds an edge to the Australia attack.

The Bad
Trent Sainsbury will miss Australia’s final group game after picking up his second booking in successive games, creating a genuine pickle for Arnold.

It’s understood Sainsbury’s 83rd minute yellow card was for time-wasting with his side 2-0 up, although the official Asian Cup broadcast feed, which hasn’t been generous with the replays, never showed this. We did however see the PSV Eindhoven’s frustration at the referee’s decision, suggesting it may have been heavy-handed.

Whatever the case, it won’t be overruled, so Arnold must replace Sainsbury in the heart of defence against Syria with two obvious options; a straight swap with Matt Jurman or move Mark Milligan from midfield into defence and draft in Massimo Luongo, Mustafa Amini or Jimmy Jeggo in the centre of the park. Head scratcher.

The Ugly
Early on it appeared it might be another nervous night when Maclaren fluffed a sitter of an opportunity, managing to miscue a shot on his left foot and block it with his right! Thankfully the Hibs man made up for his mistake shortly after with the opening goal in the 18th minute.

Mabil also made a meal of a good opportunity late in the first half when released inside the box, with his first time strike setting sail for the summit of the Burj Khalifa instead of the old onion bag in front of him.

Sure, we got our three goals – all from crosses might I add – but some of the finishing was wretched and with tougher opponents to come, that needs to improve.