Australia eye victory in Honduras test: Mooy
Australia eye victory in Honduras test: Mooy
Mooy will be one of the linchpins of the Australian effort at San Pedro Sula’s intimidating 40,000-capacity Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, where Ange Postecoglou’s men will hope to take a stride toward a fourth consecutive World Cup.
Australia has had an unhappy record in World Cup playoffs, losing five deciders between 1966 and 2002 in a string of agonizing near-misses that saw the Socceroos become eternal nearly-men.
However despite that record, Mooy, 27, said Australia coach Postecoglou will eschew caution as the Socceroos aim to carve out a decisive advantage to take back to Sydney for next week’s second leg.
“The way the boss wants us to play is to go all out and try and win the game,” said Mooy, who is brimming with confidence after a successful start to the English Premier League season with Huddersfield.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s away or home — that’s what we will do. And hopefully that will give us a good result to take back to Sydney,” Mooy added.
Australia are already battle-hardened having come through a demanding play-off against Asian rivals Syria to determine which team would advance to face Honduras, the fourth-placed finisher in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.
Mooy said the experience of prevailing over Syria in a tense two-leg battle would stand the Australians in good stead as they prepare to face Honduras, who are eyeing a third consecutive World Cup after appearances in 2010 and 2014.
“It gives us belief that we overcame that challenge,” Mooy told Football Federation Australia when asked about the Syria win.
“We’ve got another big challenge coming up and I’m sure it will be another tough game. But we’ve overcome these challenges and the next one will be no different,” Mooy added.
The venue for Friday’s game is in a Honduran city notorious for violence linked to the drug trade. Mooy however said the Australian squad had received a warm welcome since arriving in Honduras.
“It’s not been a problem so far. Everyone seems nice and friendly,” Mooy said. “I’m sure once we get to the game though it’s going to be a bit different.”
Saudi Arabia’s Young Falcons through to Asian Games knockout stages despite 3-0 defeat to North Korea
- Young Falcons have wings clipped but still fly into second round after heavy defeat.
- Saudi Arabia qualify as one of the best third-placed teams.
JAKARTA: From flying high to almost flying home, Saudi Arabia’s Young Falcons came within a goal of going from group leaders to bottom of the table after losing 3-0 to North Korea in their final Group F match at the Asian Games. They ultimately squeaked through as one of the best third-placed teams.
Arriving full of confidence and with one foot already in the knockout stages, coach Saad Al-Shehri rested seven of the 11 players who started the win against Myanmar on Friday. That meant a much-changed back five, with Al-Ittihad’s Amin Al-Bukhari in goal and Al-Ahli duo Mohammed Al-Zubaidi and Mohammed Al-Bassas, both making their Asian Games debuts alongside ever-presents Abdullah Tarmin and Awn Al-Saluli.
The rejig, however, backfired as, inside two minutes and with their first effort on goal, North Korea were ahead. A corner from Kwang-myong Jo was met by the head of Yong-il Kim who directed it past Al-Bukhari with ease while his defenders looked on in confusion; the marking as tight as a wizard’s sleeve.
The Young Falcons had arrived at the Wibawa Mukti Stadium top of Group F and virtually assured of a place in the Round of 16, yet the strike shifted everything. Suddenly, a three-goal Myanmar win against Iran would put the Saudi Arabia’s place in the knockout stages in serious jeopardy.
The players seemed to understand the consequences of conceding that early goal as nerves took hold. Al-Bukhari, the debutant goalkeeper, allowed a pass to run under his foot, scrambling back desperately to avoid further embarrassment, while loose balls were hoofed clear in panic. Al-Shehri crouched on the sideline, as motionless as his midfield.
North Korea, well-beaten by the Iranians three days earlier, looked more dynamic and determined, pressing intensely and holding back nothing in their tackles. Saudi Arabia, in contrast, were meek. In the 25th minute, they fell further behind. Woeful defending allowed Korea a free shot at goal from close range and Al-Bukhari’s parried save was turned into the net by striker Yu-song Kim.
Al-Shehri refrained from making changes at half-time, yet his side did not improve. Just six minutes after the restart, and again from a corner, Korea notched their third. At 1.94m, Ittihad’s Awn Al-Saluli was the tallest outfield player by some distance, yet he was slow to react when Yu-song Kim squeezed in front of him to header home his second goal of the afternoon.
The rushed introduction of Nawaf Al-Habasi and Haroune Camara gave the Young Falcons more of a physical presence and Abdulrahman Ghareeb saw his shot tipped around the post, but it was Korea who came closest to the game’s fourth. Al-Zubaidi was dispossessed while playing out from the back and raced back to make a last-ditch tackle, winning the ball cleanly. Tajikstani referee Nasrullo Kabirov, however, deemed it a foul and produced a red card only to change his mind after speaking with his fourth official.
With news filtering through that Myanmar were beating Iran 2-0 and chasing a third, Saudi pushed forward seeking a lifeline. It was not to arrive, but neither was Myanmar’s, allowing the Young Falcons, wings clipped, to stumble through to the knock-out stages.