Back where it all began for another Cup tilt
back to the endemic nature of Australians to be able to tough it out in the face of adversity.
The crowd needed to be overcome as well. An intense, passionate and intimidating atmosphere shrill with the constant drone of horns and chants … we took that in our stride also. It was a very good performance away from home.
For a country that boasts football in its DNA, second only to religion, the Hondurans rely too much on the emotion of the game and pace on the counter. There was certainly not any degree of sophistication about their football.
In fact, we’ve played better teams in our qualifying which might partly explain why we still have a game to go to discover our fate.
This was the best performance from Australia in quite a while.
We dominated the midfield largely due to the return of Mile Jedinak. He gave us good balance and was a very effective screen for the back three. He also made life simpler for Aaron Mooy and Massimo Luongo by giving them good cover centrally allowing both to get forward into good areas.
Mooy in particular worked a lot of good combinations with Aziz Behich on the left and this will be of benefit for the return leg on Wednesday.
It was a good performance and many would say it is a point well-earned. But many would also bemoan our lack of finishing prowess that again denied us all three.
We created a number of good scoring opportunities that weren’t capitalised on. Finishing is an art, a skill almost in isolation from the rest of the game because it’s purely about the striker, the ball and his thought process which includes composure and technique.
On the positive we made the chances in the first place and that’s a plus. It would be a big problem if we weren’t.
So now it’s all down to one game just as it was 12 years ago before the Socceroos’ 32-year World Cup drought was broken. At the same venue and one would hope in front of another full house with the kind of passion and raw emotion only football can muster. We have to be confident after yesterday’s game.
We will have recovered much better than Honduras courtesy of a charter flight home and this will be a telling factor the longer the game goes on.
We have Mat Leckie and Mark Milligan back from suspension - both have been key players. Robbie Kruse is back from injury, and of course Tim Cahill should be available for a cameo off the bench at least.
The stars are aligned in our favour. Unlike 12 years ago, we are going into this game as favourites. The World Cup is beckoning yet again.