The Socceroos drew 2-2 against Oman in Sydney on Tuesday night in front of a dissapointed partisan crowd at ANZ Stadium. The poor result puts added pressure on coach Holger Osieck to qualify for next year’s World Cup finals which will be held in Brazil.
The Socceroos seemed to be struggling from the outset. With many of their stars plying their trade in the freezing temperatures of Europe, the short time to reacclimatise their bodies to our recent weather actually favoured Oman.
It was only the 6th minute before a loosely contested ball saw Oman’s Abdul Aziz finish with a nice strike to give his team a shock 1-0 lead. Oman’s will to be competitive far outweighed any expectation for Australia to win a game that should have been a formality.
Adding to the challenge was some curious team selections that saw young James Holland start in midfield instead of the more creative Mark Bresciano. Unfortunately for Holland and the Socceroos he lost too much possession of the ball during the first half.
The second half continued to see a half-hearted display from the Socceroos with Holland finally being taken off for Bresciano. In the 49th minute a cross from Oman’s right saw Mile Jedinak lunge for the ball, only to have it deflect into the back of his own net making it 2-0 to Oman.
However, the Socceroos’ reply was pretty swift with Bresciano’s presence making a difference. In the 51st minute, a corner from the right was met by the ever reliable Tim Cahill who scored with a trademark header to make it 2-1.
The home fans were finally starting to see what they had expected from the beginning. Tim Cahill was a constant thorn in Oman’s side with his threatening aerial ability. The constant pressure from the Socceroos eventually paid off in the 85th minute when a long range strike from Brett Holman made its way past a hapless Al-Habsi in the Oman goal to make it 2-2.
But time wasting tactics and some desperate defending from Oman meant an eventual winning goal wouldn’t come. If the Socceroos are looking to qualify for a third consecutive World Cup Finals, they need to improve on this recent form. They now face Japan away before playing their remaining two games on home soil.
Australia 2 (Tim Cahill 51′, Brett Holman 85′)
Oman 2 (Abdul Aziz 6′, Mile Jedinak 49′ og)
Man of the match: Tim Cahill