Rough start for Socceroos AFC Asian Cup title defence
7 January 2019
FOOTBALL: The Socceroos have started their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 campaign with a defeat, going down to Jordan 1-0 at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Sunday night.
Despite dominating for large periods, Graham Arnold’s side were undone by Anas Bani Yaseen’s first-half header.
Australia laid siege to Jordan’s goal after the break but were continually denied what would have been a deserved equaliser by some desperate defending.
Awer Mabil hit the post as the Socceroos created chance after chance in the second half, with Chris Ikonomidis, Jackson Irvine and Tom Rogic all going close.
But it wasn’t to be Australia’s day, with the side now turning their focus to Friday night’s second group match against Palestine.
The Socceroos enjoyed plenty of possession in the early stages, with Jordan content to sit back and deny Australia space around their box.
Awer Mabil was looking the most threatening and almost gave Australia the lead on 13 minutes, getting in behind the Jordan defence on the left but his shot was well stopped by the keeper.
The let-off seemed to give Jordan a boost and they would go on to take the lead on 25 minutes.
Bani Yaseen managed to break free from his defender at a corner, planting an unstoppable header into the top corner of the net.
And the Socceroos had keeper Maty Ryan to thank for not falling further behind soon after.
Bahaa Abdulrahman hit a rasping free-kick from the edge of the box which was headed for the top corner, only for Ryan to produce a stunning fingertip save, tipping the ball onto the crossbar and away.
Rhyan Grant replaced Josh Risdon at right-back at the break and Australia immediately got on the front foot as they chased an equaliser.
And it almost came just after the hour mark as Tom Rogic let fly from 25 metres out with his shot spilled by the keeper, before substitute Chris Ikonomidis just failed to turn in the rebound.
It began a period of concerted pressure from Australia as they pushed Jordan back and probed for an opening.
Rogic could have done better 19 minutes from time when he was on the end of Aziz Behich’s low cross, but the Celtic playmaker fired over the bar.
Australia went even closer soon after when Mabil made space for himself inside the box and rifled off a vicious strike which cannoned onto the post.
It was wave after wave of Socceroos attack and Ikonomidis was again involved in the thick of the action, with his goal-bound header hacked off the line by a defender.
The Socceroos did have the ball in the net with four minutes left through Jamie Maclaren, only for the striker to be denied his first international goal by an offside flag.
Ikonomidis was denied again in stoppage-time as Jordan held on for a famous win.