Aussies Abroad: Asia special

Caltex Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury in action for Jiangsu Suning.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017 

John Duerden @JohnnyDueden
Asian football expert @JohnnyDuerden tracks the progress of ex Hyundai A-League stars and current Socceroos across the continent’s biggest leagues.


The league has been making headlines around the world lately and there are some well-known Aussies in the Middle Kingdom.

This season has seen playing time a little harder to come by for some as the rules were changed before the season started.

That meant that there was no longer a special ‘Asian berth’ in the matchday squad.

Only three out of five foreigners could be named on that roster meaning that some Australians were competing with world-famous stars from Europe and South America for a starting spot.

Trent Sainsbury

Trent Sainsbury has just returned from a spell at Inter Milan.

Now back at Jiangsu Suning, he is playing under Fabio Cappello.

Caltex Socceroo boss Ange Postecoglou will be hoping that the central defender gets some minutes under his belt before the international break but training under one of the most famous coaches in the world will be of some consolation.

Ryan McGowan was a late call-up for Australia's World Cup Qualifier against Saudi Arabia.

Ryan McGowan

Ryan McGowan picked up an injury against Chile in the Confederations Cup in June and that interrupted an impressive season with Guizhou Zhicheng.

A series of commanding performances have helped the unheralded westerners find mid-table safety in a sea of big-spending rivals.


Matt Jurman

In neighbouring Korea Republic, Matt Jurman could be about to achieve something spectacular.

The defender collected a league championship medal with Sydney FC after playing the first half of a successful season. He then headed north to the Korea Republic and Suwon Bluewings.

Suwon’s season started slowly but now the Gyeonggi giants are on a roll.

Six wins from the last seven games have put the four-time champion in second place behind Jeonbuk Motors.

Matt Jurman for Suwon Bluewings

The Aussie has become a firm favourite at the Suwon World Cup Stadium, fondly known as the ‘Big Bird’, with a series of commanding performances.

There are other defenders in the Land of the Morning Calm.

Connor Chapman

The ex-Jet and Melbourne City man is busy trying to help Incheon United – former club of Jade North and Burns – avoid relegation.

Connor Chapman lets all his emotion out after scoring against Glory on Friday night.

Aleksandar Jovanovic

He is back at Jeju United, trying to help the islanders keep in touch at the top.


Over in Japan, there are a few players who could provide some useful tips and inside information should Australia need it ahead of August 31 in Saitama – though as well-prepared as the team is these days, that is unlikely.

Mitchell Duke

He has been almost ever-present for Shimizu S-Pulse, helping the famous old team survive back in the top flight after promotion last season.

This is the third year for the former Central Coast Mariners man in Shizuoka.

Ex-Mariner Mitchell DukeNathan Burns

“Burnsy” recently left FC Tokyo for struggling Sanfrecce Hiroshima but has yet to appear for the team that look set to dominate Japanese football at the start of the decade before falling on tougher times.

Source  :  Football Federation Australia

Josep Gombau: Aussies fear no-one after Chile display

The Caltex Socceroos were very impressive in their performance against Chile at the FIFA Confederations Cup.

The way Australia played against Chile at June’s FIFA Confederations Cup serves as a perfect example of what the side is capable of, says Caltex Socceroos assistant coach Josep Gombau.

One month from now, Australia may have secured their FIFA World Cup spot.

It won’t be easy by any means, with crunch games away against group leaders Japan on August 31 and then Thailand in Melbourne on Tuesday September 5.

With Japan, Australia and Saudi Arabia in a titanic tussle for top two automatic World Cup qualification, these final two games will decide each nation’s fate.

Group B Standings

Pos. P W D L GD Pts Form


Japan 8 5 2 1 9 17

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia 8 5 1 2 7 16
Australia 8 4 4 0 6 16
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates 8 3 1 4 -3 10
Iraq 8 1 2 5 -3 5
Thailand 8 0 2 6 -16 2


Fresh from guiding Australia last month to January’s under-23 Asian Cup in China , Josep Gombau will rejoin Ange Postecoglou’s coaching staff for the crucial double-header.

“I think we are in a good way,” Gombau told .

“At the Confederations Cup, the team was amazing – we went from less to more in every single game.

“Against Chile, we did very well against one of the best teams in the world.

“I’m sure if we play with that intensity and mentality, we don’t need to fear anyone.

Caltex Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou talks to assistants Ante Milicic and Josep Gombau.

“These two games can be a very good test for us.

“We need to keep the same mentality that we had against Chile.

“Hopefully in Melbourne against Thailand we can qualify automatically as one of the sides that goes to the World Cup next year.”


The passionate Spaniard is in no doubt about the importance of a vociferous home crowd on “Thai Tuesday”.

“I’m sure all the fans in Australia will come to Melbourne to support us,” he said.

“It’s a big day for us, a very important day.

“We need to be together to achieve this objective of bringing Australia to the World Cup.”

Socceroos v Thailand panel


Source  :  Football Federation Australia

The rivalry: Caltex Socceroos v Japan: 2012-2017

Mile Jedinak tussles for the ball with Japan's Maya Yoshida.

Earlier this week, we looked at the first half of the last decade as this rivalry really ramped up. Now we look at the five most recent clashes, starting in the Sunshine State in 2012.

June 12, 2012, Lang Park, Brisbane: 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier

Two players sent off. Sensational football on a poor pitch and an Aussie comeback. This was epic.

After Mark Milligan was red-carded in the second half, Japan then took the lead 10 minutes later after some crafty wing play.

A home loss looked on the cards.

But a late penalty – albeit somewhat controversial – was smashed home by Luke Wilkshire and both sides shared the points 1-1.

Luke Wilkshire celebrates scoring for the Socceroos against Japan at Brisbane Stadium in 2012.June 4, 2013, Saitama 2002 Stadium, Saitama, Tokyo: 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier

The Socceroos came into this game under heavy criticism for the way they had played in the group.

But Holger Osieck’s men put in arguably their best shift of the group stages by stifling Japan and taking the lead.

It looked like an upset was on the cards, but with minutes left, Matt McKay was adjudged to have handled in the box and Keisuke Honda smashed home the equaliser as Japan progressed to the 2014 World Cup with the 1-1 draw.

July 25, 2013, Hwaseong Stadium Seoul, South Korea: 2013 East Asian Cup

A largely Hyundai A-League-based squad almost pulled off a stunning fightback in Seoul.

Down 2-0 with just 15 minutes left, two goals in three minutes from Mitch Duke and substitute Tomi Juric had Holger Osieck’s side level.

Mitch Nichols in action when the Socceroos played Japan at last year's EAFF East Asian Cup.But parity lasted only a minute as Yuya Osako snatched the lead back for Japan and they held on to win a thriller 3-2.

November 18, 2014, Yanmar Stadium, Osaka, Japan: 2014 Friendly

In a pre-2015 AFC Asian Cup friendly, Australia dominated the first hour as Ange’s gameplan began to take hold, only to find themselves 2-0 down after conceding twice in the space of seven minutes.

Tim Cahill was brought on with 15 minutes left to try and turn things around and while Australia’s greatest-ever scorer nabbed a trademark header in stoppage-time, the hosts held on for a 2-1 win.

October 11, 2016, Docklands Stadium, Melbourne: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier: 

The visitors caught the Caltex Socceroos napping early on to take a shock fifth-minute lead via Genki Haraguchi’s goal.

Tomi Juric in action for the Caltex Socceroos against Japan in October.Roared on by a big home crowd Australia lifted after the break and Haraguchi went from hero to villain for Japan as he bundled Tomi Juric over in the box.

A penalty ensued and skipper Mile Jedinak did what he always does: he slammed home from the spot.

But neither side could find a winner as they played out a 1-1 draw.

August 31, 2017, Saitama Stadium, Tokyo: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier

What will happen next?

Socceroos v Thailand panel

Source  :  Football Federation Australia


Aussie fans rally ahead of Sept 5 in Melbourne

Two young fans show their support for the Caltex Socceroos.

Remember 2005? How could we forget?

Anyone who was at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium on November 16, 2005 will have the experiences of that night etched indelibly into their memory banks.

When John Aloisi fired home THAT winning penalty and set off on his shirtless sprint down the touchline, 83-000 fans joined him in utter ecstasy.

After 32 years of hurt, Australia were headed back to football’s biggest stage.

Ask anyone who was there that night how it felt.

These fans will tell you.  VIDEO: Socceroos fans on ‘that night’

Their eyes sparkle and the goose-bumps rise on their arms as they relive what many still call Australian football’s greatest night.

Fans at the 2005 FIFA World Cup qualifier between Australia and Uruguay.Many won’t remember what they had for lunch yesterday, but they’ll recall in vivid detail the marvellous moments that made up that magical night twelve years ago.

And after spending time with some of the faithful fans of the Socceroos last month, I felt utterly proud and pumped up once again.

On September 5, that euphoric feeling could return.

The Caltex Socceroos are in a dogfight to book their place at Russia 2018.

Three teams locked together at the top of their qualifying group.

Two automatic spots available.

One chance to cheer the Caltex Socceroos to Russia 2018 on home soil.

The Caltex Socceroos celebrate taking a first-half lead in their FIFA Confederations Cup clash against Chile.

Regardless of what happens in the Caltex Socceroos’ away game against Japan on August 31, they won’t secure their World Cup qualification.

Even a win in Saitama might not be enough.

Similarly, a loss or draw in Japan won’t rule Australia out.

It may all hinge on what happens at AAMI Park on “Thai Tuesday”.

Occasions like this don’t come along very often, so when they do, you’d be mad to be anywhere else.

Because who would want to miss a night like that?

Socceroos v Thailand panel

Source  :  Football Federation Australia

Why these are two massive games for Australia

The Caltex Socceroos are just over a month away from two massive games – 180 minutes of football which are absolutely pivotal to the next 12 months.

Here’s why…


Pos. P W D L GD Pts Form
Japan 8 5 2 1 9 17
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia 8 5 1 2 7 16
Australia 8 4 4 0 6 16
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates 8 3 1 4 -3 10
Iraq 8 1 2 5 -3 5
Thailand 8 0 2 6 -16 2


Australia’s World Cup qualification group is extremely tight with the top three separated by just one point.

Each nation has two games left.

Tomi Juric in action for the Caltex Socceroos against Japan in October.


AFC has 4.5 spots in qualification for the next FIFA World Cup.

Only the top two in each group earn automatic entry to Russia 2018.

Third place in each group square off in a home-and-away showdown with the winner moving into a home-and-away intercontinental playoff against a CONCACAF nation.


Japan v Australia in Saitama on August 31

UAE v Saudi Arabia in Al Ain City on August 31

Australia v Thailand at AAMI Park in Melbourne on September 5

Saudi Arabia v Japan in Jeddah on September 5


Thursday 31 August 2017

07:35 Japan Japan   v   Australia Australia
09:00 Thailand Thailand   v   Iraq Iraq

Tuesday 5 September 2017

06:00 (TBC) Australia Australia   v   Thailand Thailand
06:00 (TBC) Iraq Iraq   v   United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates
06:00 (TBC) Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia   v   Japan Japan


What if Australia and another nation finish on equal points at the end of the group stage?

If both teams have the same points then goal difference will be the deciding factor.

Central Midfield: Tom Rogic

If the teams still can’t be separated, the side with the most goals scored in the group will book a place in Russia.

Still tied after that?

Then it’s the greatest number of points gained in games between the teams concerned.

In the case of Australia and Saudi Arabia, the Socceroos have four points and the Saudis one point from their two meetings.

The Caltex Socceroos players celebrate Tom Rogic's second half strike against Saudi Arabia.


The Caltex Socceroos know they will secure World Cup qualification with two wins.

A win and a draw might also be enough depending on other results.

However, both Japan and Saudi Arabia can also secure their spots with successive victories.

Regardless of what happens against Japan, Australia won’t be definitely in or out when they return to Melbourne for their clash with Thailand.

The Caltex Socceroos and Japan players shake  hands following their WCQ in Melbourne.

But a win in the September 5 clash at AAMI Park may well see the Caltex Socceroos punch their ticket for Russia.

It could well be a night to remember.


Source  :  Football Federation Australia

Stories of World Cup qualification: ‘09 and 2013

Former Socceroos striker Josh Kennedy celebrates scoring the goal that sealed Australia's place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

After the heart-stopping run to Germany 2006, interest in the Caltex Socceroos was at an all-time high heading into the next World Cup qualification campaign for South Africa 2010.


Australia’s path to South Africa 2010 was through Asia for the first time.

It meant that instead of relying on a one-off two-legged playoff once every four years, the Socceroos had to go through two group stages of Asian qualifying.

Countdown on to Asian Cup

The Socceroos got through a tricky opening group relatively comfortably, qualifying for the next stage along with Qatar under new coach Pim Verbeek.

The second group stage featured two groups of five nations, with the top two from each qualifying.

Australia received a kind draw with only one other country in its group, Japan, having made the World Cup before.

Wins away to Uzbekistan and home to Qatar put Australia in a strong position and when it drew 0-0 with Japan in Yokohama, they were in pole position to go through.

A home win over Uzbekistan then meant Australia needed only a draw away to Qatar to qualify.

The  Socceroos did that and became one of the first teams to book their place in the finals. Amazingly, they only conceded one goal in the final round of qualifying and celebrated their passage to South Africa with a 2-1 win over Japan in their final match of the group.


The  Socceroos World Cup 2010 campaign got off to a disastrous start, however, as they were outclassed by a rampant Germany in Durban.

Tim Cahill was sent off as Joachim Low’s vibrant young side put four past Mark Schwarzer, leaving Australia with everything to do in its final two group matches.

Holman to join Aston VillaAn early Brett Holman goal in the second match against Ghana looked to have steadied the ship, until a controversial Harry Kewell sending off changed the balance of the game.

Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan scored from the resulting penalty and the game finished at 1-1, leaving Australia with everything to do in their final game.

Needing either Ghana to beat Germany, or Germany to thrash the Africans, the Socceroos took their destiny into their own hands with a battling display in a thrilling match against Serbia in Nelspruit.

But goals from Tim Cahill and Brett Holman weren’t enough, and Australia went out on goal difference.


Australia was aiming for a third straight qualification to a World Cup when they kicked off phase three of qualifiers along with Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Oman under German coach Holger Osieck.

A loss away to Oman and an excellent 3-1 win in the heat of Saudi Arabia were the low and high points as Australia progressed to the final phase of qualifiers by 2012.

Oman, Japan, Jordan and Iraq were in their group with Japan drawing with the Aussies in Brisbane, while the Jordanians were proving tricky away from home, but a late Archie Thompson goal against Iraq in Doha steadied the ship in the group standings.

In-form Thompson backs youth

By 2013, a sluggish Socceroos could only draw 2-2 at home to Oman.

It set up the final three games.

Australia went to Saitama and put on a masterclass, almost defeating Japan thanks to Tommy Oar’s deflected effort. But a late penalty drew the game level.

It went down to the last two games. Australia blew away Jordan 4-0 in Melbourne with Robbie Kruse doing most of the damage (and a rare goal to Lucas Neill).

And in the final match, Josh Kennedy’s famous header sent the Aussies into party mode – Brazil here we come after a 1-0 win over Iraq in Sydney at the same venue (and same end) that Aloisi made history in 2005.

Former Socceroos striker Josh Kennedy celebrates scoring the goal that sealed Australia's place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.


By this stage, Ange Postecoglou had been installed as head coach, and with a completely new, young side and attacking philosophy, the Aussies gave their all in Brazil but fell short.

Chile started strongly in the opening game to go two up but Tim Cahill’s excellent header got the Aussies back into the contest before a  late goal ended the charge for an equaliser.

A classy Chile winning 3-1 in Cuiaba.

In Porto Alegre, Holland also struggled to contain the Australia with Cahill again on the scoresheet with arguably the goal of the tournament. But the Dutch edged it 3-2 after Mile Jedinak’s penalty gave Australia the lead.

Caltex Socceroo Tim Cahill scores against the Netherlands with a blistering left-footed strike at the 2014 World Cup.Spain were next and a fatigued Aussies struggled, losing 3-0 to a David Villa inspired Spanish outfit in Curitiba. Mata and Torres also on the scoresheet.

No wins in the group, but the Australans showed they had belief in a new system and approach under Postecoglou.

The future was looking bright.

Source  :  Football Federation Australia

Josep Gombau ecstatic with stylish Aussie U-23s’

Australian Under-23's coach Josep Gombau.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017 

Aidan Ormond @AidotheFFAEd
Josep Gombau is delighted with how Australia’s U-23s played in qualifying for the 2018 AFC U-23 Championships, and has given Caltex Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou a full report on the successful campaign.

The Australian under-23 coach has returned to Spain from Myanmar after his side secured qualification for January’s 2018 AFC U-23 Championship in China.

Australia topped Group F without conceding a goal in three matches.

“I am very happy,” Gombau told from Spain on Thursday night.

“We did our job – we played good football.

“It’s not so important whether you win or lose – it’s the way you play and approach every single game.

“We went from less to more in terms of performance.

“In all the games, we were the team that dominated.

“We played our football – we were always playing from the back, always attacking, always trying to recover the ball as quickly as possible after we lost it and pressing high up the field,” he said.


With a squad of largely Hyundai A-League players, Gombau oversaw comfortable victories over Brunei, Singapore and Myanmar.

The 3-0 win over their hosts which sealed Asian Cup qualification was particularly pleasing for the U-23 mentor.

“We played an away game that we had to win to qualify in front of 30,000 people supporting the local team in humidity we are not used to, and with pitch conditions not the best,” said Gombau.

“It was a big experience for the boys because it’s not just football, it’s a competition.

“They are young players and at this point in their lives, it’s something that helps them grow as players.

“It’s been a nice experience for all of us and all the players have learnt from it.

“I’m excited for the things which are coming now in January.”


Gombau believes it won’t be long before many of his young charges make the leap to the full Caltex Socceroos side.

And he revealed those discussions have already begun with Ange Postecoglou.

“I’ve had a long conversation with Ange,” he said.

“He followed the competition and saw the games.

“We discussed the team’s performance and the players.

“We don’t forget that the under-23’s is the step below when players can become Socceroos.

“We spoke about individual players who in a short time or in the future can represent the Socceroos,” he said.

Source  :  Football Federation Australia