In their last encounter in the first phase of qualifying for Qatar 2022, Australia faced a modern rival in Jordan – who have always been a bump in the road for the Socceroos.
Since 2012, we have gone tit for tat against the Jordanian national team. No draws in 6 games; 3 wins and 3 losses. This finally changed as the Socceroos broke the pattern, winning twice in succession for the first time in this fixture’s history in a hard-fought battle in Kuwait.
A first half which lacked an end product went by in a breeze, with the two most notable chances falling to Abdel-Rahman and Martin Boyle, who traded almost exact replicas of free kicks on either end – each curling just wide of the post after having the keeper beaten.
With not many chances going, the quality of the pitch posed a greater threat. As the ball could not glide along the surface as well as it might in Australia, the Socceroos had to battle the fast-pressing Jordanian squad and the bounce of the ball at the same time. This, of course, did not matter for our new favourite giant.
With only 13 minutes to go, the Socceroos were facing their first dropped points in this qualifying stage, until Boyle swung in a beautiful corner to the towering Harry Souttar who buried his header into the Jordanian goal. As his 6th goal in this qualifying campaign, that certifies that Souttar – a defender – has scored the most goals, beating Jamie Maclaren’s tally at 5.
The feisty affair could not have ended without an ounce of drama, with Ehsan Manel Haddad fouling Behich late in the half, which caused some handbags. This quickly escalated into Behich being floored by a headbutt and a strike in the face by Musa Suleiman. With the original offender certainly looking at a red card, it was to the commentators and players surprise that the latter was sent off for the strike – with Ehsan Manel Haddad being let off with a yellow card.
Despite the inevitable fury of the Jordanian team, it was the better team who came out as winners in a 1-0 result, which capped off a fantastic run of 8 wins in a row, for the first time ever.
Now, it is the kids who look forward towards the Olympics. With certain Olyroos Connor Metcalfe and Denis Genreau rested against Jordan, Graham Arnold would certainly feel confident in his midfield come July.