Socceroos march into Asia with 2-0 win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Socceroos march into Asia with 2-0 win

By Doug Conway 16/08/2006 09:33:42 PM Comments (0)

The Socceroos are through to next year's Asian Cup finals at their first attempt.

But it took two late moments of magic from 26-year-old Adelaide debutant Travis Dodd to down unfancied Kuwait 2-0 in an otherwise unconvincing display at Sydney's Aussie Stadium.

Dodd scored one goal in the 76th minute and set up another for substitute Sasho Petrovski in the 87th as the Australians made hard work of beating a team of part-timers ranked 100th in the world.

It was their first Asian Cup match on home soil, and their first of the post-Guus Hiddink era.

And what a far cry it was from the euphoria of the World Cup in Germany in June.

The Socceroos, composed entirely of domestic A-League players in the absence of their European-based stars, were fielding one of their most inexperienced sides of all time - and it showed.

Two of the starting 11 were making their debut, three had played only once before in the national colours, and midfielder Steve Corica and goalkeeper Clint Bolton had not represented their country for five years.

For most of the night the novices looked unlikely to break down the amateurs.

Only in the final 15 minutes did the fitness of Australia's home-grown professionals take its toll, and when it did they ran away with the game.

The Australians, understandably nervous on such a big occasion, took even longer to get going than the crowd of 32,600 which dribbled in late and could not muster the enthusiasm of the glory days of June.

Interim coach Graham Arnold gave his players free rein to go out and entertain, but they had trouble fulfilling his wishes until the dying stages.

Arnold also viewed this encounter as the start of Australia's 2010 World Cup - a chance for the Australian-based players to strut their stuff and press their claims.

But very few did, other than Mark Milligan, David Carney and Dodd.

Milligan, showing the benefit of his experience with Hiddink in Germany, though he did not get any World Cup game time, stood out for the Socceroos.

Dodd finished off a rare piece of quality interpassing involving Alvin Ceccoli and Carney, and his powerful run and shot gave Petrovski a simple tap-in to complete what looked like a comfortable victory but was far from it.

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