Socceroos exorcise demons in march towards WC

The Socceroos are another step closer to the World Cup, and have exorcised a few demons along the way.

A goal from Adam Taggart was enough to beat Jordan in Amman, and maintain Australia's 100 per cent start on the qualifying road to Qatar 2022.

After four games they are halfway through the first stage of qualifying, but much further along than that in points terms. Graham Arnold's side can start tentative planning for the second phase, even with four games left in this part.

 

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As importantly, it was a first win over Jordan in the Middle East in four attempts. Holger Osieck lost here in Amman and so did Ange Postecoglou, and this was just as fervent an atmosphere as those previous encounters.

This was the sort of night every footballer should crave to be a part of, the queues outside the ground indicative of the atmosphere that would await the players in gold.

Both times Australia has come here previously the home support had whipped itself up into a cauldron, and both times it had tipped the scales in favour of Jordan.

 

 

That was what made Australia's first half display all the more important, playing with patience and control. They won 50:50s and kept their heads amid the cacophony.

Even at three-quarters full, the King Abdullah II Stadium reverberated every time the home side attacked. But their passion was split, anger at recent performances under Jordan coach Vital Borkelmans spilling over into chants of "Vital out".

At halftime the home substitutes ran across to berate their own fans for the insubordination, but it didn't change the volume at all.

If anything the start to the second half increased it, as Jordan stormed out like men fighting for the future of their coach.

 

 

Of the lessons to take from this game, a significant one is the way Australia lost their grip on the contest. A tidal wave of Jordanian attacks was expected after the break, but the Socceroos lost the poise that had characterised their first 45 minutes.

They got lucky too - centreback Tareq Khattab will long ponder how he headed wide at the far post when left utterly alone on 65 minutes, and there were more misses in the final moments. No wonder Awer Mabil was waving at his older teammates to calm down amid it all.

But you need luck on nights like these.

This trip always loomed large as the toughest encounter for Australia in this first phase of qualifying and you need a certain temperament to ignore the noise, make light of an atrocious pitch and avoid the temptation to panic.

 

Certainly there were still areas of concern. Clearly discomforted by the pitch, Brad Smith's delivery was consistently poor from the left flank and that's a key part of this team's attacking strategy.

But the goal that won it, though, that was a work of art - simple but deadly. The fact Australia held possession for a period began it, before the ball was slipped into Jackson Irvine in the centre circle.

Spying the ghosting run of Taggart, Irvine played an angled pass between Jordan's centrebacks, and Taggart lifted the ball beyond goalkeeper Amer Shafi with clinical ease.