Asian Cup 2019 Key Points: Socceroos lacked creativity against feisty Jordan

Kelvin Leong Kelvin Leong

Jordan stun Asian Cup defending champions Australia with 1-0 win in Group B opener. Kelvin Leong picks out five key moments from the game.

The Socceroos won the 2015 edition on home soil and has made it to the final in the previous two tournaments.

Sadly, the current team pale in comparison and their lack of creativity in attack along with their inability to make possession count saw them lose to a tenacious Jordan side.

Here are five key points from the game…

  1. Possession doesn’t guarantee victories

Socceroos had 73 per cent of possession in the first half and 76 per cent overall. With such a huge amount of time on the ball, they only had 13 shots, with four of those on target.

Graham Arnold’s charges tried to pass their way around but whenever they reached the attacking third, they were bereft of ideas.

Tom Rogic, Awer Mabil and Robbie Kruse hardly provided the ammunition for Jamie Maclaren to attack and Massimo Luongo was equally lost in the middle of the park.

If the Australians are to retain their crown as Kings of Asia, they will need to up their game in the remaining games against Syria and Palestine.

  1. Jordan thoroughly deserved the lead

The reigning champions won the possession game but despite getting time on the ball, Arnold’s charges failed to find that penetrative pass.

Jordan, on the other hand were ready to pounce on the counter and on more than one occasion, the Socceroos backline had to chase back.

They opened the scoring from a 26th-minute corner-kick which was put in by Anas Bani Yaseen but in all honesty, the Australians were lucky to be only down by one.

Baha Abdel-Rahman’s scorching free-kick just three minutes later was tipped onto the bar by Matt Ryan as the Australians were still bewildered by the earlier goal.

The half-time whistle couldn’t have come any quicker for the team in yellow and green.

  1. Stonewall penalty for Australia not given

While Jordan deserved their lead, it could easily have been one apiece had referee Ahmed Al Kaf watched the replay of Feras Shelbaieh’s handball.

Robbie Kruse attempted a cross in the 43rd minute which hit the Jordan defender’s arm and despite the whole Australian team holding their hands up, the referee was unmoved.

It could have been seen as ball to hand instead of hand to ball, or that the defender was too close to get out of the way but certainly a contentious moment that could have changed the complexion of the game with two minutes left to the break.

  1. Khalil Bani Ateyah covered every blade of grass

Baha Abdel-Rahman and Anas Bani Yaseen will certainly get the plaudits for their stunning contributions in this game but the man-of-the-match trophy had to go to Khalil Bani Ateyah.

The 27-year-old Al-Faisaly midfielder played like a man possessed as he put in tackle after tackle to thwart the Socceroos’ advances.

Not only did he contribute on the defensive end, he was quick to offer his teammates an option when Jordan reached the attacking third.

Only two games played at the Asian Cup 2019 but this has been one of the most complete performances from an individual so far.

  1. Jamie Maclaren looked lost at the top

If Arnold came into the tournament adamant that Jamie Maclaren will be his main striker, this game probably wiped Plan A out completely.

The Hibernian striker has yet to open his international account in eight appearances and didn’t manage to get behind the Jordan defence at all.

Maclaren had eight touches of the ball in the first half and only one of the eight came inside the box. He dropped deep and went wide in a desperate attempt to be involved and that is not what you want to see from your main striker.

Things didn’t get much better in the second half for the former Brisbane Roar forward even though he got the ball into the net on 86 minutes but was ruled out for offside.

To be fair, his teammates lack of creativity didn’t give him much of a chance.