Australia made the worst possible start to the defence of their Asian Cup crown on Sunday as Graham Arnold’s Socceroos were handed a 1-0 defeat by unfancied Jordan. The Australians, who won the title on home soil four years ago, dominated for long spells but were unable to find a way to cancel out Anas Bani Yaseen’s 26th minute header in the Group B clash at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.
Vital Borkelmans’ Jordan were resolute in defence against an Australia side that struggled to turn their domination into chances. The Socceroos went into halftime trailing by a goal and were fortunate not to be further behind. Bani Yaseen put his side in front when he was given the time and space to head Baha Abdelrahman’s corner home unchallenged, powering the ball beyond the flat-footed Maty Ryan.
Four minutes later Abdelrahman almost added a second when his freekick from the edge of the area speared towards goal, only for Ryan to push the ball onto the woodwork before it was cleared. For all their possession in the opposition half, Australia crafted few clear-cut opportunities, with Awer Mabil’s shot coming back of goalkeeper Amer Shafi’s legs and Jamie MacLaren heading high over the bar.
Mabil hit the woodwork late in the second half as Australia grew increasingly desperate to find an equaliser and Shafi was kept busy until the final kick of the game but Jordan held on for a famous win.
Australia next face Palestine on Jan. 11 while Jordan will take on Syria.