Vastavam web: Defending champions Australia made their worst ever start to an Asian Cup on Sunday when they lost 1-0 to Jordan in front of a partisan crowd in Al Ain. Graham Arnold’s youthful side had expected victory in their Group B opener but they were undone by Anas Bani-Yaseen’s powerful first-half header from a corner. It leaves the injury-hit Aussies with much to ponder ahead of Friday’s game against Palestine, when they will need a win to get their title defence on track.
Australia started confidently but their Brighton ‘keeper Mat Ryan made the first save when he kept out Yousef Rawashdeh at his near post after a mistake by Massimo Luongo. The youthful Socceroos had more than 70 percent of first-half possession but rarely threatened, while Jordan were intent on harassing in midfield and seeking chances on the break. Their goal came from a corner on 26 minutes, when defender Bani-Yaseen escaped Luongo’s marking and powered his header into the top corner, prompting jubilation in the strongly pro-Jordan crowd of just under 5,000.
Suddenly Australia were rocking and three minutes later, they were grateful for Ryan’s finger-tip save as he pushed Baha Abdelrahman’s free kick onto the bar. Celtic forward Tom Rogic’s stinging shot was kept out by Shafi, before Ikonomidis’s attempt at a follow-up was smothered by the defence. Rogic passed up a golden opportunity for the equaliser on 72 minutes, when he was free in the box but scooped his shot well over from Aziz Behich’s cross. Six minutes later, the lively Mabil smashed one off the upright with Shafi beaten, before Ikonomidis’s header was scrambled off the line.