Australia came from a goal behind against Kuwait to claim an opening 4-1 win of the Asian Cup at AAMI Park.
Socceroos slow start but strong finish
The Socceroos began the opener sluggish conceding within the first eight minutes. Kuwait found some joy on the counter-attack after a turnover that lead to a corner for the Kuwaitis.
A defensive error early on in the eighth minute led to Kuwaiti defender Ali Hussein Fadhel scoring the first goal in the 2015 Asian Cup. Fadhel found the breakthrough when a corner was flicked in his path, heading into the back of the net.
Kuwait went into their shell defending deep and resorting to the rare counter-attacks that more often than not fizzled out. But despite Kuwait’s inactivity in attack, Australia struggled to create effective chances on goal.
The side struggled to find an effectual final ball in the opening half-hour. But the tide slowly turned the way of the home team. And when Tim Cahill equalised in the 31st minute the Socceroos’ clicked into gear.
Speaking after the match Socceroo boss Ange Postecoglou spoke of his disappointment with the start but also praised the fight back.
“We got off to a very disappointing start conceding a goal, we should never concede,” Postecoglou said.
“The reaction was great, and there was a really good energy and intent in the way we played.”
Tim Cahill factor
The legend of Tim Cahill continues to grow, and Friday night’s game was no exception. The former Evertonian found the back of the net, just over the 30-minute mark, courtesy of a Massimo Luongo cutback ball from the byline.
In classic Cahill style he dispatched the ball into the roof of the net drawing the score level at a crucial stage of the game.
However, the reliance on Cahill’s ability to nab a rabbit out of the hat might be costly going further into the competition. As ageing legs go, a 35-year-old Cahill could be tiring in the latter stages of a tournament.
The Socceroo boss spoke highly of the equalising goal scored by Cahill, as well as his ability as a player.
“For me the equaliser was the defining moment, it gives the players the belief we’re on level terms,” Postecoglou said.
“It doesn’t need me to say, he’s still a fantastic player and still very dangerous in the box.
“There wouldn’t be a defender in the world who would want to be one on one with Tim Cahill, whether that be in the air or on the ground.”
Luongo’s coming out party
He might play in the third-tier of English football but Massimo Luongo is proving to be a cut above. Named man of the match after a performance that saw him claim a goal and an assist is testament of that.
The tireless work put in at midfield, as well as Luongo’s dribbling runs deep may have presented to the Australian football public that he’s more than just a League One player.
The youngster dislodged prominent Socceroo midfielder Mark Milligan to start the opening game of the Asian Cup, and on first viewing it seems to have been a masterstroke. Luongo proved both dynamic and hardworking in midfield, claiming balls from unlikely positions to making runs into attacking areas causing problems for opposition defenders.
Commenting on the period where Luongo assisted Socceroo top goal scorer, Tim Cahill, Postecoglou said:
“Through that period Massimo Luongo was outstanding.”
“He created the first goal and scored the second, more importantly there was a real urgency with what he did, and he lifted a few around him.”
Luongo spoke about scoring his first international goal for the Socceroos.
“It was amazing, it felt the world to me,” he said.
“I think there still a long way to go, but I definitely came of my shell a little bit.”