FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM AUSTRALIA'S 1-0 2022 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING WIN
* THE SOCCEROOS ARE FAR FROM THE FINISHED PRODUCT
Australia have been plagued by injuries since the start of the campaign and in their first real test they came close to sharing the points with a side 44 places below them in the rankings. They were defensively vulnerable, particularly on the left flank, and were not nearly as accurate with the final ball or in front of goal against Jordan. The hosts really pushed for the win and were unlucky to be denied in added time.
* DEFENSIVE FRAILTIES BUILD
The Socceroos' back four have had little continuity in this campaign due to fatigue and injuries, with only Rhyan Grant starting every game of the campaign on the right. After conceding their first goal of the qualifiers in Taiwan, Trent Sainsbury returned as a calming presence. But his centre back partner Milos Degenek was often left to guard the left flank alone as Brad Smith pushed up and Jackson Irvine drifted inside. Jordan continually exploited the gaps that Smith left.
* ARNOLD IS EVOLVING TAGGART'S GAME
Goal-scorer Adam Taggart's link-up play is one his biggest strengths. But his winner actually came after his rapid movement to find a gap as Jackson Irvine drew Jordan's central defenders out. Graham Arnold later revealed he had been working with the striker to exploit the gaps over their two training sessions in Amman, showing that even more established players are still evolving under the manager.
* AUSTRALIA'S WIDE MEN NEED MORE ACCURACY
Smith and Awer Mabil were guilty of a number of wasted crosses against Jordan ending decent attacking opportunities. Smith often seemed to overhit his deliveries while Mabil drilled many of his crosses into defenders' legs. Both also struggled to get down congested flanks and were average defensively.
* BOYLE SET TO START
Scottish-born winger Martin Boyle made his long-awaited return to the Socceroos in the 70th minute turned helped shore up the right-hand side. The tricky forward dribbled past many of the Jordanian defenders who had earlier managed to frustrate Mabil. He was also solid in defence, tracking back and making a key clearance late in the game. If he stays injury-free at Hibernian, he will surely start next match.
Australian Associated Press