The opening fixture of the 2015 Asian Cup hasn’t disappointed with the Socceroos triumphing over Kuwait 4-1.
It is the first time the tournament has been hosted on Australian soil and is unquestionably the greatest football tournament the country has ever hosted.
Fans couldn’t hide their excitement with thousands rolling into Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium well before kick-off.
Our team at THE TURF decided to get amongst it with the Green & Gold Army we met in Brasil ironically at the Cricketers Arms Hotel in Richmond before the game.
These fans were only a few of many who had travelled far and wide to see their home nation perform in front of a sold out stadium in Melbourne.
The travelling Kuwaiti fans were also in full voice early hoping to spoil the party for the Socceroos.
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou continued his attacking minded philosophy starting Cahill, Kruse, Leckie and a young talent in Massimo Luongo.
Despite all Australia’s hard work controlling possession, the Kuwaiti’s were able to make use of a quick break on the counter down winning them the corner. A low cross found its way onto the head of Ali Hussain Fadhel who finished with a beautifully placed diving header into the back of the net.
The goal was a shock that nobody had expected. You could almost hear a pin drop amongst the deadly silent crowd in Melbourne….
It was evident that Kuwait would park the bus and protect the goal as a wall of defenders stood ready for what was about to be an onslaught of pressure.
Young gun Massimo Luongo was a shining light for the Socceroos and had the crowd in awe as he turned three players inside out; sending an assisting ball to none other than our savior Tim Cahill.
The eruption in the stadium was deafening, for the next five minutes there were chants of SUPER TIMMY CAHILL saving the day yet again for the Socceroos.
It was refreshing to witness a new young breed of Socceroos coming through and taking over the game.
Luongo was coming out of his skin in the first half, proving himself to be a class above the Kuwaiti players.
With only minutes before half time, Ivan Franjic sent a well weighted cross to find the man of the moment Massimo Luongo leaping in front of Cahill to score a magical goal.
Australia’s class was too much for the Kuwaiti players in the second half, as Robbie Kruse managed to win a penalty which was converted by captain Mile Jedinak.
The party had started in Melbourne as a sea of green and gold fans were up on their feet.
Matthew Leckie was another player for the Socceroos who can’t be forgotten. His ability to dance around players on multiple occasions with ease displayed his class.
Leckie managed to find James Troisi who squeezed a ball into goal at the near post late in added time.
The Socceroos fans began singing Seven Nation Army for the former Melbourne Victory player, a special tradition whenever a goal is scored for the Vic’s.
Although it was a fairytale finish for the Socceroos, they survived a scare from arguably their easiest opponent in the group.
Matthew Ryan made himself look like a giant in front of goals stopping everything in his path and diving like a gazelle to save some unstoppable shots by the Kuwaiti’s.
All in all it was a perfect way to begin the biggest football tournament Australia has ever hosted. If tonight’s match is anything to go by, the 2015 Asian Cup will be a great success and put Australia on the map and be taken seriously for future tournaments.
Follow our team at THE TURF as we travel to Sydney tomorrow to cover the next Socceroos group match in the Asian Cup.
Words by Ari Charilaou & Photography by Aleksandar Jason.