Australia Fixtures (Group 1)
6th February (Wed) Australia 3 Qatar 0
26th March (Wed) China 0 Australia 0
2nd June (Mon) Australia v Iraq TBA
7th June (Sat) Iraq v Australia TBA
14th June (Sat) Qatar v Australia TBA
22nd June (Sun) Australia v China TBA
Having broken the 32-year curse to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, the road to the 2010 World
Cup was, for the first time, to be mapped through Asia. With the Socceroos drawn in a tough
"group of death", their first match against Qatar was a must-win affair.
Against a team ranked much lower than Australia, and at home, the Socceroos were favourites to
win comfortably. But new coach Pim Verbeek was leaving nothing to chance, sending the call-up to
Australia's top overseas-based players to ensure the best quality squad would take the field against
a Qatar side built mainly around newly-arrived immigrants and coached by Uruguayan Jorge Fossati,
who coached Uruguay in that famous 2005 qualifier.
It took just 10 minutes for the Socceroos to open the scoring. A cross from Brett Emerton went
into the box, where Josh Kennedy flew high over the Qatari defenders to head the ball into the
net. For the nervous Australian team and supporters, it was a moment of relief.
The Socceroos were dominant in the air, while the Qatari defence was lost against the quality of
the Australian crosses. After 18 minutes it was 2-0 when another aerial attack found Tim Cahill to
head home another score.
The third came on the half hour when a pass from McDonald was snapped up by Marco Bresciano,
who weaved his way around the defenders to slot the ball past the Qatar keeper. At 3-0, the
game was already out of Qatar's reach and Australia were cruising home.
But a fourth goal was not to come. As the match went on the Australian team, most of whom had
only been in the country for less than 2 days after gruelling overseas flights, were visibly tired and
struggled to maintain the momentum generated in the first half.
By then the game was safe, but the only low point came when Josh Kennedy was brought down
in a crude tackle by Abdulla Koni to incur an ankle injury. Koni can consider himself lucky to have
only received a yellow card when he could easily have been sent off; but the injury meant that
Kennedy would play no further part in the game.
3-0 was how it finished; a comfortable win for the Australians. Still a long way to go in the "group
of death"; but a good start for Australia. Their next match, on 26th March against China at altitude
in Kunming, will present a tougher challenge.
Australia 3 (J Kennedy 10, T Cahill 17, M Bresciano 33) Qatar 0.
Yellow Cards : Australia - C Moore 63. Qatar - A Koni 64.
Referee - Mohd Salleh Subkhiddin. Crowd - 50,933 at Telstra Dome, Wednesday 06/02/2008.