Men's: AFC Asian Cup 2011 Qualifying Stage - Group B

Australia do enough to qualify
By BOTN / FFA

Asian Cup Qualifier
7:30pm, Wednesday 3 March, 2010 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane


Australia 1
(Mark Milligan 42')
defeated
Indonesia 0


(Yellow support for the blue!)

Mark Milligan scored his first goal at international level to see the Qantas Socceroos seal their place in the 2011 Asian Cup with a straightforward 1-0 victory over an Indonesian side that battled gamely but was ultimately undone by sheer weight of possession on Wednesday night in Brisbane.

Australia started with only 2 players from the 0-0 draw 14 months ago at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta despite also being an A-League sourced side. They started slowly and never really hit its straps, but quick thinking and a slick strike from Milligan in the latter stages of the opening half was enough to see the home side finally book its ticket to Qatar, much to the delight of the 20,422-strong crowd.

Milligan - deployed as a central defender for the duration of the match - used his shoulder to deflect a looping dead-ball strike from Luke Wilkshire into the crossbar, and then pounced on the spillage while Indonesian 'keeper Markus Rihihina was in no man's land.

Wilkshire then delivered pinpoint service from the corner in the dying stages of the opening half, but Rihihina met Simon Colosimo's powerful header with a miraculous leaping one-handed palm over the crossbar to keep his side within reach at the major break.

The hosts then clicked into gear after half-time, but they found it just as tricky to make an impact on the scoreboard, despite the numerous entries into the box.

Giant striker Josh Kennedy, anointed as the man who could be the difference by both camps at the pre-match press conference, went close with a pair of headers after being starved of the ball in the first half.

Jason Culina, who was given the captain's armband and much more freedom to roam forward than he is usually accustomed to, looked to take matters into his own hands, but a series of long-range attempts failed to find the back of the net.

In the end it mattered little.

After a trying qualification campaign, typified by a loss to Kuwait on home soil last year, Australia needed to take at least one point away from the final Asian Cup qualifier to ensure it would not miss out.

National coach Pim Verbeek started both Tommy Oar and Shannon Cole on debut, and entrusted a squad made up of predominately Hyundai A-League talent to get the job done against Indonesia, ranked 136th in the world.

Verbeek would have had a few nervous moments while his side failed to score in the first 40 minutes despite controlling the tempo and dominating possession in the early stages of what was a reasonably physical encounter.

Milligan's impressive effort would have allowed Verbeek to collect his thoughts before a thoroughly entertaining second half where Oar's slick skills came to the fore.

The 18-year-old winger was kept reasonably quiet in the opening stanza, but his pace and lethal left-foot were more often than not a part of Australia's surges forward in the second half.

Qantas Socceroos' goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic had an early chance to calm his nerves when Budi put in a tame effort for Indonesia's first strike in the 11th minute, and the World Cup hopeful rarely came into action after that point.

Australia played at home in their new Nike away strip of blue, with another blue, with a yellow stripe, in line with worldwide Nike marketing. Go figure!



Asian Cup Qualifier
7:30pm, Wednesday 3 March, 2010 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Australia 1
(Mark Milligan 42')
defeated
Indonesia 0

Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that.

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