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Arnold confident time together will be making of Socceroos after Jordan win

Australia warmed up for their critical World Cup knockout game against the UAE next week with a 2-1 win over Jordan in a friendly match in Doha.

Goals either side of the interval to Bailey Wright and Awer Mabil, both from corners, sealed a comeback victory after coach Graham Arnold’s much-changed side – which bore little resemblance to the 11 that will start against the UAE – came from behind after a tremendous Musa Al-Taamari goal put the Jordanians in front.

Jordan’s goalscorer Musa Al-Taamari is challenged by Jason Davidson.

Jordan’s goalscorer Musa Al-Taamari is challenged by Jason Davidson.Credit:Getty

Aaron Mooy, who has not played competitive football for his Chinese club for months, got critical game time and lasted an hour. With the shock withdrawal of Tom Rogic from the squad for personal reasons, Mooy will be a critical figure in midfield in the game against the UAE and needed to show he retained his touch.

Coach Graham Arnold praised the work rate and mentality of his makeshift side after the come-from-behind win - but admitted that much still needs to be done if Australia are to beat the UAE next week and set up a final World Cup qualifying decider against Peru.

“Still a lot of work to do,” Arnold told Network Ten after the game, saying he believed having an extended period to work with his players will pay dividends. “What we have been driving since we got into camp is reaction when we lose the ball. I have been disappointed over the campaign about the mentality of that.”

“We have been working on it, I was happy tonight with the work-rate, the chasing back and the fighting for the ball and the second balls. We probably could not have had a better game to play. Jordan are a good side....they put us under pressure and that’s the perfect game that you want.

Sunderland’s Bailey Wright celebrates his equaliser in Qatar.

Sunderland’s Bailey Wright celebrates his equaliser in Qatar.Credit:Getty

“I think that’s the first time we have come back since I have been in charge. We have gone down 1-0 and come back ... in the past few games when we have gone down 1-0 or something has happened we have fallen apart, and tonight that wasn’t the case.”

Al-Taamari had made it clear early in this game that he was Jordan’s most dangerous threat. The 24-year-old has played in Belgium and Cyprus and his pace – aggressive running and good touch – immediately caused problems for the Socceroos defence.

But no one would have expected him to make his mark with a strike as stunning as the long-range drive which put the Jordanians into the lead in the 17th minute.

Jordan showed little fear of Australia and Al-Taamari had already had an early sighter, a 10th-minute effort that went wide of Mat Ryan’s post.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold believes extended time with his squad will be instrumental to Australia’s push for a fifth straight World Cup berth.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold believes extended time with his squad will be instrumental to Australia’s push for a fifth straight World Cup berth.Credit:Getty

But he made no mistake shortly after following a good move down the right - although Jordan were assisted by a curious lack of urgency and commitment by Australia’s defence.

Set up by a nice lay back from Ahmed Samir, Al-Tamari unleashed a fierce left-foot drive that swerved and beat goalkeeper Ryan, another who has not played much for his Spanish club Real Sociedad this season.

He was a buzzing presence throughout for a team that really should have hit the front on the hour mark when substitute Yazan Al-Naimat lobbed wide when clean through with just Ryan to beat.

Socceroos defender Bailey Wright has had a whirlwind week or two, capped by his display for Sunderland in the Wembley play-off final victory that took the storied old club back up to the English Championship.

The big centre back was recalled to the Australian squad for the first time since 2019 by coach Arnold, and his re-appearance was marked by two crucial first-half involvements at either end of the pitch.

With Australia trailing and Jordan pressing for a second goal, Wright committed a clumsy challenge inside the area with Jordan immediately clamouring for a penalty that could have given them a two-goal lead.

With no VAR to help, play was waved on and Wright breathed a sigh of relief. Shortly after, he was a pivotal figure at the other end, scoring Australia’s equaliser. Craig Goodwin, who was one of a number of fringe players starting this game, floated over a free kick and Wright rose higher than his rival to thump home a header and make it 1-1.

Australia coach Arnold had called up an extended 29-man squad for the do-or-die play-off campaign and promised to field an experimental team for this game, giving players who had not had many match minutes a chance to show what they could do.

Melbourne Victory left-back Jason Davidson started for the first time in seven years, but made way after just 45 minutes, as did Blackpool midfielder Kenny Dougall, replaced by Jackson Irvine.

Awer Mabil celebrates what proved to be the winner for Australia near the 70-minute mark.

Awer Mabil celebrates what proved to be the winner for Australia near the 70-minute mark.Credit:Getty

Mooy was rusty but grew into the game and almost put Australia in front with a free kick that struck the woodwork early in the second half.

He lasted an hour before being replaced by young former Melbourne City midfielder Denis Genreau: like Wright, he was on a high, having helped his French club Toulouse to promotion to France’s top tier next season.


Central Coast defender Kye Rowles made an international debut, Riley McGree was given a chance as an attacking midfielder between Mabil and Craig Goodwin, while Melbourne Victory striker Nick D’Agostino led the line.

Goodwin’s delivery from set pieces made him a threat, Rowles looked comfortable at the back, and D’Agostino got a crucial touch to help set up Mabil’s winning goal after Bailey Wright had initially been denied with a fine save of his header from another corner.

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