Socceroos dazzle but held to draw
The Socceroos will leave for Brazil this week after an entertaining 1-1 draw with South Africa on Monday night, though an injury to star right back Ivan Franjic took the gloss off the display.
The crowd of 50,459 got their money’s worth with an open and attacking clash despite the bumpy surface at ANZ Stadium.
A first half goal to Tim Cahill cancelled out Ayanda Patosi’s strike a minute earlier in a frenetic opening.
However, a second half injury to Franjic is a big concern just two days out from a plane ride to Brazil.
Over the 90 minutes, the Socceroos showed immense attacking promise but a few worrying moments exposed by South Africa’s speedy strikers on the break would’ve given Ange Postecoglou cause for concern.
Overall though this was a performance of great attacking promise showing that Australia won’t die wondering in Brazil.
It was a helter-skelter opening 20 minutes. As expected, Australia started sharply with plenty of movement and good energy levels in their 4-2-3-1 formation with Cahill up top.
Oar went close with two long-range efforts and Leckie’s header from the resulting corner was batted away by the keeper as the visitors looked all at sea in the opening ten minutes.
Yet in their first attack the South Africans broke down Australia’s right via Thulani Serero and in the resulting scramble in the box, Ayanda Patosi slotted a low shot past Mat Ryan’s left hand for a shock lead.
But Bafana Bafana celebrations were short-lived - in Australia’s first attack from the restart, ‘Captain Cahill’ rose high to head home a perfect cross by Oar and it was 1-1 inside 15 minutes.
Cahill should’ve made it 2-1 a minute later when the excellent Oar found him on the edge of the box but South African keeper Senzo Meyiwa made an excellent stop.
South Africa regained some control in the latter stages of the half but the sides went into the break locked at 1-1.
The all-out attacking continued from the off in the second stanza with both sides creating good chances in the opening minutes.
But the excellent Franjic’s injury five minutes into the second half was a worrying sight.
The Roar star was given treatment and returned, albeit gingerly. He lasted barely two minutes before hobbling off.
The ever-dangerous Leckie, playing on the right, was put through brilliantly but struck low and past the post as the Australians continued to press for a second.
A number of substitutions in the latter part of the second half took some of the rhythm out of the Socceroos’ game but the home side continued to press forward with Milligan almost slotting home from the edge of the box.
Ben Halloran, one of the late substitutions, was causing problems and the striker came close with his own long distance strike.
Inside the final ten minutes and World Cup qualification hero Josh Kennedy came on to raucous applause for the hard working Leckie.
Vidosic had a chance to win it with a header in the final few minutes and Bozanic's header was just inches away but no winner could be conjured up for the Brazil-bound Socceroos who had to be content with a draw.
Best for Australia were Oar, Leckie and Cahill, who was subbed off after 62 minutes.
Australia 1 (Cahill 13m)
South Africa 1 (Patosi 12m)