Australia’s World Cup preparations has gotten off to an encouraging start having taken out neighbours New Zealand 1-0 in their first friendly meeting on home soil at Suncorp Stadium.
Having had the wood over their Trans-Tasman rivals, the Socceroos kept their undefeated streak going having still not lost to the Kiwis since the 2002 OFC Nations Cup Final.
Graham Arnold picked his strongest team to start the game, having informed pundits in the lead up he was opting to give minutes to his European based squad members. And despite bringing in some new blood into the side, it was a very familiar line-up who took to the pitch for the first whistle.
Though fielding an experienced line-up and keeping their winning run over their rivals in check, it wasn’t a walk over. The All Whites put up a challenge, registering more of the possession and having their fair share of opportunities at goal, finishing with more shots at goal.
Tim Payne and Andre de Jong went close to to putting the away side ahead before eventually the Socceroos found their feet. Jackson Irvine the catalyst with the midfielder having been in-form with German outfit St Pauli, his club form translated to the international stage having two chances from close range off set pieces to get his side off the mark.
The hosts would later give the home fans something to cheer about as they took the lead in the 32nd minute when Amwer Mabil strike from long range found the bottom corner having been set up by Irvine who was impactful throughout the night.
Leading 1-0 at half time, the Socceroos had their chances to double their advantage in the second half. Riley McGree would come off the bench and come close, Matthew Leckie in the 85th minute would go on an impressive run and but denied by the post.
With the World Cup just months away, their warm up has gotten off to an ideal start and will be hoping to take bragging rights over their neighbours when the two sides meet again in Auckland on Sunday.
MABIL REDISCOVERS HIS TOUCH
While he may have been frozen out of the squad at club level for La Liga outfit Cadiz CF, winger Amwer Mabil showed he’s certainly still got a place in the Socceroos line-up having been an attacking threat on the left-wing.
Amongst the top contributors for the Aussies tonight, the 27-year-old scored his first goal at international level in 12 months in stunning style, striking from outside of the box with his left footed shot passing Kiwi keeper Oli Sail to be tucked away in the bottom left corner.
The Socceroo had plenty of chances, though Mabil was one of few who found the target. He’d also impress with his passing and ability to find space to create chances as well as get on the end of some.
IRVINE DOING IT FOR COUNTRY AND CLUB
Having been in arguably the form of his career with a brilliant start to the 2022/23 Bundesliga 2 campaign for St Pauli, his performances at domestic level translated in his clash against the Kiwis.
The man of the match, the 29-year-old way deployed in central midfield and was the driving force for the Socceroos with his work rate, and while he didn’t find the net he was amongst everything in attack.
Having two chances early to break the deadlock, he’d be directly involved once the Aussies eventually scored having set up Mabil’s goal just after the half hour mark.
Having an impact and creating plenty of opportunities, it was an encouraging performance for the midfielder.
THREE ON THE TROT
Having gone on a brilliant run during their qualifying campaign before a string of underwhelming results, the Socceroos look to have found their touch again having won their past three outings.
Having edged past United Arab Emirates and Peru to make it to Qatar, the win over New Zealand marks their third consecutive win.
With a World Cup coming up, the Socceroos look to be hitting form at the right time.