The Socceroos have booked a spot in the 2015 Asian Cup Final after dominating UAE 2-0 in a one-sided Semi-Final clash.
For the first time in 20 years, Newcastle was given the opportunity to host an Australian international match, which didn’t disappoint. Despite the heavy debate of the host venue, Newcastle produced the goods selling out the stadium days in advance.
It was a must win for the Socceroos, knowing that an early exit in the tournament would result in their campaign being deemed a failure, whilst putting coach Ange Postecoglou’s job in jeopardy.
The Socceroos weren’t taking any prisoners tonight, playing ruthless against the UAE from the word go. A corner from maestro Massimo Luongo saw an unmarked Trent Sainsbury head the ball for an early goal in the third minute. The defender was left completely open in the box, as all the attention was swept onto Tim Cahill.
The UAE displayed moments of brilliance throughout the game, their best chance coming from striker Ahmed Khalil striking the base of the post in the 10th minute .
Captain Mile Jedinak was a general in the midfield, dictating the pace and cutting out UAE young superstar Omar Abdulrahman.
It only took another 10 minutes for the Socceroos to strike again. Robbie Kruse delivered a brilliant cross to Matthew Leckie, whose shot was blocked. Massimo Luongo did brilliantly to drive an assisting ball to Jason Davidson who slotted the second goal for the Socceroos.
Australia’s first two goals are an example of the unpredictability of this Asian Cup. Both goals were from defenders, who both marked their international début goals for their nation. Luongo also recorded his second assist of the night, and has earned himself a right to start in the Asian Cup final.
Australia continued to control the possession passing their way out the back. The central defensive unit comprising of Sainsbury and Spiranovic stayed compact throughout the entire game. The pair were a brick wall, preventing the UAE strikers from spreading their defensive line and reducing the chances of diagonal runs and breaks in attack.
It was a frustrating night for Tim Cahill on the ball, although off the ball he worked tenaciously from box to box, finding himself as a last man in defense in the 39th minute clearing a ball out of the 18 yard box.
The win tonight proved that Australia has not only learnt how to produce consistent performances on the park, they have also learnt how to produce results.
The final gives the Socceroos and coach Postecoglou a chance to redeem themselves against South Korea on Saturday night, and also to achieve what they couldn’t in 2011 against Japan.
The final is undeniably the most important and significant game the Socceroos will play to date. If results go the Socceroos way, it will be the first time in their history winning major silverware.
Whilst covering the Socceroos matches, our team at THE TURF was surprised to see how quiet the home fans have been. Despite the fact attendance levels have been near capacity, the games have been awfully quiet. It must be a weird feeling for foreigners who know the importance of making the final, yet are confused as to why the Australian fans are so silent?
Whilst there have been fans chanting in the active support area, there has been constant argument over the organization and lack of active support. Due to the fact active support tickets are the cheapest, many families opted to buy them not knowing that it was standing only.
For the problem to be solved, active support area tickets must be sold at a higher price ($5-$10 dollar increase) and also be made exclusive to a selection of fans. There should be an area on the ticketing website separate from the normal ticketing page, where the active fans can buy tickets without missing out due to families etc….
The problem won’t be solved in the short term, but if the Socceroos can win tonight, perhaps more Australians will understand the significance of winning this Asian Cup.
The Socceroos are only one step away from creating history….
Tune in to THE TURF as we take you to the final and hopefully cover the post-game celebrations if the Socceroos win the cup.
Words by Ari Charilaou. Photos by Keith McInness & Aleks Jason.