Get ready for fireworks as the top two sides meet in Group B when Jordan host the Socceroos in Amman.
Just hours after the Hyundai A-League kicks off Season 11, the Socceroos face their toughest group test in this blockbuster FIFA Russia World Cup 2018™ qualifier.
Australia sit atop Group B with a 100% record, having scored 10 times and conceding just one in three games.
The motivation for Jordan - should they take all three points - will be the chance to leap-frog Australia into top spot (Australia is on nine points, Jordan seven).
For Australia, a victory puts them five points ahead of Jordan and in pole position to top the group.
And as the Socceroos will vividly remember from their last visit to Amman, their supporters will make for a hostile environment.
Though our players won’t be overawed by this type of hostility, if the hosts jag a goal early it will really test the Aussies’ mettle.
In 2012, such a scenario played out. Australia lost a FIFA World Cup qualifier at the King Abdullah International Stadium, with Jordan defeating Holger Osieck’s Aussies 2-1 after taking a 2-0 lead in front of a raucous home support.
Goals to Hasan Abdel Fattah and the excellent Amer Deeb on a landmark night for Adnan Hamad’s outfit (Archie Thompson chipping in with the sole Aussie reply in the final minutes).
This memory will give Jordan a lift but also spur on the Aussies to make amends (some of the squad that night are also in Jordan this week, such as Spiranovic, Cahill, Federici, McGowan and McKay).
Australia, however, wreaked revenge on the Jordanians the following year with a thumping 4-0 win at Etihad Stadium to all but qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
In 2015, January’s Asian Cup showcased the best of Jordan under then coach Ray Wilkins (the former England star). In particular, four-goal hero Hamza Al Dardour, who lit up AAMI Park against Palestine with a virtuoso display.
The Saudi-based 24-year-old striker again looms as the key man if the hosts can get something out of this game.
Jordan may’ve dropped eight spots to 99 in the latest FIFA World rankings, but that’s still higher than group opponents Kyrgyzstan (146), Tajikistan (160) and 182nd placed Bangladesh.
But Australia is the highest ranked nation in the group at 58. And this is a different Aussie side to 2012, one much better prepared and clear on how they play under Postecoglou.
You sense though, the Asian Champions won’t allow the hostility to get the better of them. In fact, they’ll relish it.
But that said, this will be some test.
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