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Australia vs Thailand

FIFA World Cup - 2018 Qualifiers - Asian Region - Round 3 - Group B - Match 10
Australia vs Thailand
at Melbourne Rectangular Field on 2017-09-05T10:00:00
Score: 2-1 (0-0)
Scorers: Tomi Juric (69'), Matthew Leckie (86')
Official Info: Socceroos
Previous Match: Japan vs Australia
Next Match: Syria vs Australia

A home game, in prime time, on free-to-air, against an opponent we should beat easily. It should have been an entertaining evening and a big score would almost certainly assure us of direct qualification. Instead, it was as agonising match as we dominated but could not find the back of the net.

From the very start, we were on top and we remained on top basically the entire match. We created chance after chance, hit the woodwork several times and were on the wrong end of some very good and/or very lucky saves. We should have had the game comfortably in the bag by half-time - instead it was 0-0. It took until the 70th minute for us to score! At this point, we'd achieved our first objective of winning, but remained a long way off our second objective of boosting our goal difference.

Incredibly the Thais then scored to make it 1-1. To the Aussies' credit they didn't panic and were able to restore the lead. However the match finished 2-1 and everyone felt disappointed. We should have won by a lot more and we needed to.

I thought the Thais played well. They were organised, passionate, committed and gave their all. They have a couple of very good players, especially their #10. However, they were thoroughly outclassed on the night.

I thought the refereeing was a bit dubious. We benefitted from several decisions. Surely the Thais earned a penalty at the start of the second half that could have seen them go one-up. And Matt Ryan should have a had a yellow card for a rash challenge.

Overall, I thought our campaign was a good one. We've been roundly criticised even though we went within a whisker of direct qualification. Our only blemish was the away draw with Thailand. Those two points dropped would have seen us top our group, within only Iran (from Group A) having a better record.

Now we have to play Syria with the home leg second. We should win comfortably (although where have I heard that before). It's one of those games though. If we lose, it's an embarrassing disaster. If we win, well, we beat poor old Syria, struggling with a civil war. Should we win, we must beat the 4th-placed CONCACAF team. I suspect this will be no easy matter, especially if their rankings stay as they are. We'd have to beat the USA.