Graham Arnold’s absence on the touchline did not hinder the Socceroos in their crucial victory 4-0 victory over Vietnam, as a Celtic star’s return sparked an attacking onslaught against the visitors.
Read on for the biggest points of discussion in our Socceroos Talking Points!
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ROGIC REALLY IS THE WIZARD OF OZ
Tom Rogic is affectionately known as ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to the Celtic faithful, and he truly proved why that’s the case in an all-star display against Vietnam.
He had the ball in the back of the net after just 19 seconds, but an intervention from VAR led to the referee ruling the goal out after he had judged Jackson Irvine to have impeded the Vietnamese goalkeeper’s view from an offside position.
However, the setback did little to prevent Rogic from shining as he put the opening goal on a platter with a perfect cross that Jamie Maclaren headed home past the Vietnamese goalkeeper for the opening goal.
Rogic then turned from provider to scorer, dinking the ball past the goalkeeper after Mat Leckie played him in with a delicate through ball.
The Celtic ace proved just how much the team missed him in their last match against China, as he constantly found space between the lines and linked play with aplomb.
Put simply, without Rogic on the field it could have been a very frustrating night.
25 MINUTES OF FRUSTRATION EXPOSES GLARING ISSUE
The final scoreline shows a game that demonstrates the Socceroos had few issues in the final third.
However, the opening 25 minutes painted a different picture that left fans with an all-too familiar feeling in their stomachs.
The Socceroos rarely have trouble getting to the final third, but what has often let them down in recent games is that killer pass to unlock a deep defence, being able to convert chances or even string passes together in forward areas
Aside from the opening 19 seconds in which Rogic scored before it was cruelly ruled out for offside, it felt like deja vu as chance after chance went begging.
Thankfully, Jamie Maclaren put an end to the worries with an opener on the 30-minute mark before Rogic, Craig Goodwin and Riley McGree got their names on the scoresheet.
Vietnam are in last-place in Group B of the AFC World Cup Qualifiers, so there were always going to be chances coming for the Socceroos throughout the 90 minutes.
But with games against Oman, Japan and Saudi Arabia — the three toughest opponents left to play based on ladder position — they simply cannot afford to be wasteful in front of goal again.
NO ARNIE, NO WORRIES
Graham Arnold was a notable absence from the dugout, as he tested positive for Covid earlier in the week.
He was due to emerge from isolation this morning, but he did not clear the required protocols in time to be in attendance for the game.
Assistant coaches Rene Meulensteen and Tony Vidmar took training sessions and were barking instructions from the touchline as the Socceroos didn’t miss a beat with Arnold watching from elsewhere.
No doubt he would have been fuming watching Vietnam pile on the pressure early in the second half and it wouldn’t have been nice to be the person on the other end of the communication line at that moment in time.
If there was a game for Arnold to miss, Vietnam on Aussie soil was perhaps the best one to do so.
But there has been no decision made as to whether he will travel with the squad to Oman, and that could be worrying as it represents another must-win occasion for the Socceroos against a team that they have struggled with previously in their travels.
DEFENSIVE FRAILTIES MUST BE FIXED
The Socceroos were forced to field a backline that had never played together as a unit, as debutant Joel King slotted in at left-back.
King and right-back Fran Karacic added plenty to the Socceroos’ attack as they bombed up and down the wings, but the space they left behind them meant that Vietnam were able to easily strike on the counter-attack.
The defensive unit were solid in the first half, but the opening 20 minutes of the second half told a different story.
Vietnam’s triple substitution at half time caused plenty of problems, as they had plenty of good chances that, in honesty, they should have buried.
A point-blank save from Mat Ryan kept the score at 0-0, but he was often left rooted to the spot as the Aussie skipper watched shot after shot whistle just past his post.
Opposition counter-attacks have often been the Socceroos’ Achilles’ heel in the World Cup qualifiers of late, and they can’t let that happen again.
KING’S SHIRT TO LOSE?
While Vietnam came close to scoring, Joel King didn’t look at all out of place in his Socceroos debut.
He linked up well with Mat Leckie on the left wing and stood up defensively when called upon.
Regular left-back Aziz Behich will link up with the squad in Oman for the next World Cup qualifier, but is he a guarantee to slot straight into the starting line-up again?
King can now call himself a Socceroo, and even if he doesn’t keep the left-back spot against Oman, it’s safe to say that the 21-year-old will be a regular for years to come.