Socceroos defeat Jordan in friendly international

The Socceroos have beaten Jordan 2-1 but they will need to improve if they are to defeat the United Arab Emirates in next week’s sudden-death World Cup playoff.

National coach Graham Arnold conceded the Socceroos had “a lot of work” ahead of them to secure World Cup qualification following an unconvincing 2-1 win over Jordan in Qatar.

The friendly match served as a warm-up for the Socceroos’ do-or-die World Cup playoff against the United Arab Emirates – also in Qatar – on Wednesday morning (AEDT).

Rather than pick his best 11, Arnold experimented with his line-up against Jordan, giving Central Coast Mariners defender Kye Rowles his first cap and also starting with a host of other fringe players, including centre-back Bailey Wright, left back Jason Davidson, midfielder Kenny Dougall and striker Nick D’Agostino.

It perhaps was the reason for a slow start, with the Socceroos forced to fight back from a goal down after Jordan went ahead via a blistering 18th-minute strike from attacker Mousa Al-Tamari.

A concerning lack of creativity meant the Socceroos needed goals from set pieces to secure victory.

Wright headed home a well-placed Craig Goodwin free-kick to equalise five minutes before half-time, with Australia’s improved second-half performance rewarded with a winner from winger Awer Mabil – who was onside by the barest of margins – in the 68th minute after Jordan failed to clear a corner.

Jordan was gallant in defeat and should have had the chance to double its lead from the penalty spot in the 39th minute when Wright brought down striker Ali Olwan.

However, the referee waved play on, and with the VAR system not in use, Jordan’s justified complaints fell on deaf ears.

In a positive sign for the Socceroos, underdone midfielder Aaron Mooy – who had not played a match since February – lasted about an hour before being replaced by France-based Denis Genreau.

Mooy’s class was evident when he hit the post with a sublime free-kick in the 50th minute.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Aaron,” Arnold told Network 10.

“Aaron was very good on the ball, made some good things happen, a great free-kick … but overall there’s a lot to improve on.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, We’ve got another six days before the UAE game. (There’ll be) no days off, it’s all work, and we’ll get things right.”

Arnold was pleased with the Socceroos’ workrate, particularly when not in possession.

“What we’ve been driving since we got into camp is about reaction when you lose the ball,” he said.

“I’ve been disappointed over the campaign about the mentality of that and we’ve been working on it.

“I was happy with the workrate, the chasing back and the fighting for the second balls.”

The winner of the Socceroos-UAE clash will progress to the following week’s intercontinental playoff against South American nation Peru, with the prize on offer being World Cup qualification.

Australia 2 (Wright 40’, Mabil 68’) d Jordan 1 (Al-Tamari 17’) at Al-Janoub Stadium.

Socceroos: Ryan, Karacic, Wright, Rowles, Davidson (Behich 46’), Dougall (Irvine 46’), Mooy (Genreau 62’), McGree (Hrustic 73’), Mabil (Tilio 87’), D’Agostino (Maclaren 73’), Goodwin.

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