Australia 4-0 India
Australia laboured to a 4-0 win over India in their opening Group C match at the Asian Cup in Qatar this morning [Australian time].
India rank 142nd in the world and the result did nothing to enhance the prestige of the Socceroos, who had 72 per cent of possession. It should have been a cricket score.
The Australians completed in excess of 600 passes successfully, compared to India’s 150 or so.
But, in what was Australia’s 450th senior international match, the score-line should have been much higher.
Australia were tentative and not adventurous against The Bhangra Boys. Too often, they played the ball square or backwards when they should have utilised their skills more confidently and turned on the ball and headed forward. They were caught off-side 10 times to India’s none. At one point, four Australians were caught standing off-side inside the box.
There was little to enthuse about in this match. India had two chances. In the 14th minute, NP Pradeep fired straight at Schwarzer, while 5 minutes from the end, a long high ball into the Australian penalty area found Sasho Ognenovski out of position. The centre-back recovered just in time to foil Sunil Chhetri, who failed to control the ball and then tumbled over Schwarzer, who had grasped the ball to his chest.
India have not scored a goal in this tournament since 1964, when they reached the semi-finals, and they were certainly finding it difficult to break that ‘duck’.
India’s goalkeeper, Subrata Pal, had a fine game and made some good saves, but he rarely had to extend himself against a poor Australian attack.
The goals were well worked and left one wondering why there could not have been more against a defence that was far from solid. One of the goals came from a low, square ball into the penalty area, while Kewell’s came from a full-blooded drive from 25 metres. The other two came from headers, one of which was from a set-piece. There were, however, too many aimless high balls into the box that were easily cleared by the India defence.
Scott McDonald came on as a substitute with 18 minutes remaining but was unable to break his ‘duck’ at international level.
Tim Cahill opened the scoring in the 11th minute from Brett Emerton’s low ball into the box from the right.
Kewell made it 2-0 in the 25th minute when he collected Luke Wilkshire’s ball on the right and cut inside before unleashing an unstoppable shot inside the far post from just outside the penalty area.
Subrata then denied Cahill twice in the space of three minutes, while Ognenovski headed a corner over the bar.
In stoppage time at the end of the first half, Emerton crossed from the right and Holman headed home the Socceroos’ third.
Cahill and Emerton were off target early in the second half, but in the 65th minute, Cahill headed home Kewell’s free-kick from the right to complete the scoring.
This was little more than a training match for the Socceroos and they should certainly have done better.
There have already been a couple of upsets in this tournament and it would be premature to sing South Korea’s praises yet. But, on this display, Australia will have to do a lot better to topple the Red Devils in their next match.
Australia should, nevertheless, be good enough to qualify for the round of eight, providing they win against Bahrain.
Australia: Schwarzer - Wilkshire, Neill, Ognenovski, Carney - Emerton (Burns 77), Culina, Jedinak (McKay 62), Holman - Cahill, Kewell (McDonald 72)
Goals: Cahill 11, Kewell 25, Holman 45+2, Cahill 65
India: Subrata Pal; Anwar Ali, Deepak Mondal, Surkumar Singh, Gouramangi Singh, NP Predeep (Mehrajuddin Wadoo 62), Climax Lawrence, Steven Dias (Renedy Singh 79), Syed Rahim Nabi, Sunil Chhetri, Mohammed Rafi (Abhishek Yadav 63)
Ref: Ali Hamad Al Badwawi (UAE)