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Australia vs Syria

FIFA World Cup - 2018 Qualifiers - Asian Region - Round 4 - Match 2
Australia vs Syria
at Stadium Australia on 2017-10-10T09:20:00
Score: 1-1 (1-1); ET: 2-1 (1-1)
Scorers: Tim Cahill (13', 109')
Official Info: Socceroos
Previous Match: Syria vs Australia

A tense match in which the Socceroos eventually triumphed was only just the beginning. It was followed the next morning by the seesawing CONCACAF score lines and the dramatic news that Postecoglou might quit after our next matches. Phew.

First to the match. The special event buses were running. However the one I was on at about 7:20pm was empty when it pulled up and no-one else got on. Would the crowd be disappointing?

I arrived in time but a ponderous queue meant I missed the anthems and the kick-off. I was inside the stadium but still unable to see the field when I heard a roar. It sounded positive. I ran to see but that play was over. I went back out to the halls to get to my seat. Another huge, building roar and then a mighty cheer. We’ve scored, I thought. Again I ran in, only to discover Syria had scored. Their fans were out in numbers and very loud. And we were down 0-1 after 5 minutes!

I was still catching my breath when Tim Cahill - that man again - got on the end of a wonderful cross. 1-1 after 12 minutes. It was crucial to strike back quickly as it meant we had a lot of time to score again. However, the previous result and the current scoreline mean another goal for Syria and it would be all over. Given our current scoring problems, it was difficult to imagine scoring the necessary two goals.

The rest of the first half and all of the second half were simply nerve-wracking. There is no other way to describe it. The two sides were evenly matched. Syria were always dangerous and we never settled or got on top.

1-1 at full-time meant extra-time. It was more of the same - close and tense. Finally the break-through came. Some good lead up work and another Tim Cahill header. What we would do without him? There was still time for one last play - a free kick to the Syrians. It smashed into the post and away. A matter of inches decided the match in our favour.

The Syrians were devastated and I would like to pay them a great deal of credit for such a spirited performance in very tough conditions. They did their country proud. Fortunately for the Socceroos, we move on to the next stage.

Our opponents would be decided by the last round of CONCACAF matches the following morning. The predictions were Honduras or Panama with the latter the favourite. The USA were in the mix but were expected to easily account for Trinidad and Tobago ensuring we’d avoid a very tough tie. However, when I tuned into the results the USA were down 0-2. Thankfully Honduras and Panama were both losing. And then it started getting really interesting. Panama turned their match around and went in front. Suddenly we were staring at a playoff against the USA. The USA scored in their match but were still behind. Then, incredibly, Honduras turned their match around against the undefeated group leaders Mexico. Simply astonishing. The matches finished. Panama qualified directly, the USA was eliminated and we would playoff against Honduras. Overall, probably a good result for us.

The football on the park was overshadowed somewhat by leaked rumours that Postecoglou would quit after our matches against Honduras. This is very strange - wouldn't he want to take the team to the finals? Any why did this leak now? Extraordinary.