AUSTRALIA FAREWELLS OCEANIA AND SETS UP SOUTH AMERICAN DATE
Australia has won its last ever competitive match in the Oceania Football Confederation with a 2-1 win over the Solomon Islands to set up a date with an as-yet unknown opponent from South America for a place in the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006.
After their 7-0 win in the first leg in Sydney, the Socceroos faced an improved Solomon Islands side in a well-contested match at Honiara’s Lawson Tama Stadium, taking the tie 9-1 on aggregate.
Australian-based Archie Thompson, of A-League club Melbourne Victory, lifted a bouncing through ball from Parma’s Vince Grella over the advancing Felix Ray in the Solomons goal to give the Aussies a 1-0 advantage after 17 minutes.
But, the underdogs struck back just after half-time, much to the delight of the home crowd, when Perth Glory’s Henry Fa’arodo netted from the penalty spot after being brought down by Lucas Neill of Blackburn Rovers.
Commins Menapi – suspended for the first leg – originally took the spot-kick but his effort was well saved by Aussie ‘keeper Zeljko Kalac, who then saved Menapi’s rebound shot. Kalac’s joy was short-lived as the assistant referee indicated that Kalac had moved off his line to make the save. The Solomons captain for the day Fa’arodo successfully retook the penalty to level the scores.
However, the Solomons were reduced to 10-men for the second consecutive match after George Lui was sent off for his challenge on Kalac in the melee that followed the original penalty save.
Soon after conceding the equalizer, Blackburn Rovers’ Brett Emerton scored the Socceroos winner in the 59th minute from close-range, silencing the boisterous home crowd.
Australia will now represent Oceania in a home and away playoff with the fifth ranked South American nation on November 12 and 16, 2005. The order of matches will be drawn at the 55th FIFA Ordinary Congress in Marrakech, Morocco on September 10, 2005.
Australia 2 (Archie Thompson 17′, Brett Emerton 59′)
Solomon Islands 1 (Henry Fa’arodo 49′ pen)
Australia – Zeljko Kalac, Lucas Neill, Brett Emerton, Mark Viduka (c) (Ahmad Elrich 45′), Tim Cahill (Luke Wilkshire 45′), Scott Chipperfield (Stan Lazaridis 71′), Vince Grella, Archie Thompson, Jon McKain, Jason Culina, Mark Bresciano
Cautions: Neill 48′, Kalac 49′, Bresciano 64′, Grella 75′, McKain 93′
Solomon Islands – Felix Ray Jnr., George Suri, Gideon Omokirio, Lesley Leo (Richard Anisua), Mahlon Houkarawa, Henry Fa’arodo (c), George Lui, Francis Wasi, Stanley Waita (Jack Samani), Commins Menapi, Batram Suri (Abraham Iniga)
Red Card – Lui 49′
Referee – Shamsul Maidin (Singapore)
Assistant Referee – Fathi Al Arabati (Jordan)
Assistant Referee – Eisa Ghuloum (United Arab Emirates)
Fourth Official – Santhan Nagalingam (Singapore)