We need to deliver killer blow
THE Socceroos produced their best away display under Ange Postecoglou on the biggest occasion, but the lack of cutting edge leaves them with a job to do on Wednesday night.
All roads now lead to Russia 2018, but the Socceroos must remain focused to kill off Honduras, who appeared starstruck in front of their parochial 40,000-strong San Pedro Sula fans.
Postecoglou will now unleash his batch of freshlegged stars for the second leg, headlined by substitute Tom Rogic, Mathew Leckie, Mark Milligan and Robbie Kruse, if he proves his fitness.
In scenes reminiscent of the first away leg against Syria, the Socceroos failed to land the killer blow.
Swiss-based striker Tomi Juric epitomises the Socceroos. His impressive allround display underlines his improvement, but he still lacks that cutting edge that may have secured qualification in the group phase. That paves the way for the inclusion of talisman Tim Cahill.
Australia successfully drowned out the noise to the extent that Postecoglou could communicate with the players on the pitch.
They adopted a more direct style to adapt to the spongy surface that began chopping up immediately.
Aside from a nervy opening few minutes, the youthful lineup showed great composure.
China-based Trent Sainsbury marshaled the defence expertly, while captain Mile Jedinak patrolled with assurance and Massimo Luongo and Aaron Mooy directed traffic further afield.
The equation is simple for the Socceroos – they must win in Wednesday’s return leg at ANZ Stadium to advance to the World Cup.
The Hondurans arrive in Sydney almost 24 hours later than the Socceroos. It’s halftime of this all-or-nothing World Cup playoff and Australia are in pole position.