Socceroos building momentum

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The Socceroos have earned a precious point in a one all draw which means they only need to draw their final match against Bahrain to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup 2011 in Qatar.

The boys in Green and Gold were forced to earn a point following a defensive lapse from Socceroos’ skipper Lucas Neill which resulted in a goal against the run of play for South Korea through Koo Ja-Cheol.

The 21 year old Jeju United midfielder pounced when Lucas Neill retreated to protect the Australian left post and indeed in doing so left acres of space for the young Korean to exploit; placing the ball firmly to Mark Schwarzer’s right side.

But Australia hit back in the second half through former Central Coast Mariners-cum-Genclerbirligi midfielder Mile Jedinak who capitalised on an aerially weak South Korean backline who failed to deal with a well guided cross which drew ‘keeper Jung Sung-Ryong.

Jedinak rose well in traffic which included Australians and South Koreas all of whom were scrambling to reach the ball. The towering centrocampista timed his leap best and sent the ball smartly into the unguarded goal.

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Australia back at 1-1 and looked good for three points with momentum.

So many times the hero in the famous match with the Azzurri at World Cup 2006, Schwarzer partially repeated the feat in the dying moments when he made one of the most accomplished saves of his career in repelling a shot from Glasgow Celtic’s 21 year old midfielder Ki Yeung-Sung. Schwarzer was forced to work hard and down low. The Australian hero not only saved from point blank range from a stinging drive, but strong wrists saw the parry deflect wide and away from danger for a corner.

One all it stayed at the Al-Gharafa Stadium in Doha, both sides with plenty to take from the well contested match.

Both sides know of the likelihood of a rematch in the latter stages of the tournament. Australia will however be sweating on the fitness of several key players who did not make it through the full ninety. Jason Culina, Luke Wilkshire and David Carney may be lucky to take part in the next match against Bahrain.

Carney re-dislocated his shoulder in seemingly minimal contact and looked to be in real pain as the medical staff scrambled to reinsert his shoulder into the joint.

Korea will look to finish in style against the Bhangra Boys of India and will know that they need to win and win by some margin to have a chance of leap-frogging the resilient Australians into first place in Group C.

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