A brace of set-piece goals enabled the Socceroos to warm up for next week’s World Cup play-off with a 2-1 win over Jordan in Qatar. Bailey Wright and Awer Mabil hit the target for Australia after a thunderbolt by Musa Al-Taamari had fired Jordan into an early lead at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Doha on Wednesday (Thursday AEST).
The win is just Australia’s second from their past eight games and gives Graham Arnold’s team something to build upon heading into Tuesday’s (Wednesday AEST) must-win clash with the United Arab Emirates.
Aaron Mooy was given his first competitive action since the 2-2 draw with Oman in February in a new-look starting XI as Martin Boyle, Mitch Duke, Joel King, Mathew Leckie and Adam Taggart were all rested.
Arnold’s team included several A-League players, including a debut for Central Coast defender Kye Rowles and Jason Davidson’s first international appearance since 2015. But Australia found themselves behind in the 18th minute when Al-Taamari’s rocket from well outside the box gave Maty Ryan no chance to finish off some fine build-up play.
The Socceroos were lucky to escape further damage later in the first half when Wright caught Jordanian forward Ali Olwan inside the penalty area but the referee waved play on. Seconds later Wright turned hero for Australia when the Sunderland centre-back headed home Craig Goodwin’s free-kick to level the scores in the 40th minute.
Mooy, making his 50th appearance for Australia, nearly broke the deadlock early in the second-half when his free-kick crashed into the post, with Nicholas D’Agostino unable to direct a follow-up effort on target.
The former Premier League midfielder, who has been reduced to training in Scotland with the Chinese Super League suspended due to that country’s Covid-19 situation, would eventually be substituted after a valuable 61 minutes.
Shortly after Mooy’s withdrawal, Australia took the lead. Jordan goalkeeper Yazid Abu Layla saved smartly from another Wright header, this time from a corner, with Mabil able to acrobatically finish after D’Agostino headed the loose ball back towards goal.
Australia will now turn their attentions to the clash with the UAE, with a victory in that game setting up another play-off against South America’s Peru in Qatar the following week for a spot in the World Cup.