The Socceroos have played out a scoreless draw in their World Cup Qualifying match against Saudi Arabia in what was a very heated affair in horrible conditions in front of a stellar crowd at CommBank stadium.
With a thunderous applause and an almighty roar from the Socceroos fateful, Australia’s first home game in over two years kicked off against Saudi Arabia.
The visitors Saudi Arabia looked to maintain their undefeated run in this stage of qualification and the Socceroos looked to build upon their incredible record on home soil, with their last World Cup Qualifying loss coming in 2008.
However, despite seeing some close calls and great play, the first half ended goalless; An opening 45 minutes that could only be summed up as a very scrappy from both sides.
The second half started much the same as the first half, with things almost threatening to boil over at times. There were a few half-chances early on for both teams, with the first real chance coming for the home side in the 65th minute as Martin Boyle’s follow up effort from an Awer Mabil free kick was well saved by Saudi Arabia’s custodian Mohammed Al Yami.
Sadly for the home side fan favourite Harry Souttar went down in what looked like a serious injury in the 76th minute after defending a deadly looking counter attack from Saudi Arabia.
Both sides were unable to break the deadlock as the heavy rain really started to take it’s toll on the play in the final minutes of the second half, and were forced to settle for a draw.
IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK.
After what felt like an eternity for Australian football fans without a match on home soil, the global game returned home. The Socceroos faithful did not disappoint, turning up in great numbers with 23,314 fans attending despite the less than ideal conditions.
From the moment the Socceroos ran out on to the pitch, long after the final whistle, you could feel that there was magic in the air tonight in Parramatta.
Cheering on every pass, every tackle and every attempt at goal, the Australian fans truly were the 12th man tonight, and after such a long time without it, seeing and hearing the Socceroos supporters on home soil was almost enough to bring a tear to your eye.
BEHICH OUT TO PROVE DOUBTERS WRONG.
After his most disappointing performance in Socceroos colours last time out against Japan, Socceroos stalwart Aziz Behich’s inclusion in Graham Arnolds starting XI was met with frustration by fans, but the 43 time capped Socceroo was out to make amends and prove his doubters wrong.
Behich looked a far more composed figure at the back with some cruical interceptions and some impressive runs forward, seemingly having endless energy.
Topped off with some impressive balls into the box come 90 minutes Behich was proving to himself and the Socceroos faithful the quality that has lead him to earn 43 caps for the national team.
JEGGO LOOKS TO WIN MIDFIELD BATTLE
With both Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic missing from the squad, there was a spot up for taking in Australia’s midfield free, with James Jeggo getting the nod to start in the middle of the park over the likes of Genreau, Mcgree and newcomer Stensness.
Jeggo seemed like a man on a mission at times out to make that midfield spot his own, showing his grit and steel, often doing the dirty work in the centre of the park, winning key balls to allow more freedom to his midfield compatriots Jackson Irvine and Ajdin Hrustic.
After such a strong performance from Jeggo, Socceroos boss Graham Arnold surely has a selection headache for the rest of the World Cup Qualifiers.
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAID
Graham Arnold, Australia
“If you look at our 2021, we didn’t concede a lot of goals.
“Step by step, we become stronger.
“And when you want to qualify for the World Cup, you need to be very strong at the back”
Hervé Renard, Saudi Arabia
“It [Souttar’s injury] looks very serious. Will probably be too early for me to say exactly what it is.
“At the moment he is in quite a lot of pain. He is having scans first thing in the morning, but I don’t think he will be coming to the UAE training camp.”
FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Round 3: CommBank Stadium
Saudi Arabia 0
Image supplied: Socceroos