India

Socceroos maintain perfect record

Mathew Leckie was among the Socceroos’ scorers against Nepal. Picture: Francois Nel/Getty Images

The Socceroos have recorded their seventh successive World Cup qualifying victory with a 3-0 win over a plucky Nepal.

Having already secured progression to the next stage of the Asian Football Confederation qualifiers for next year’s World Cup, the Australians sealed top spot in Group B with their latest win which took them to 21 points from seven Group B matches.

Captain Mat Leckie, right back Fran Karacic and attacking weapon Martin Boyle all scored in steamy conditions in Kuwait City against a brave Nepal side that was reduced to 10 men on the stroke half-time when Rohit Chand was sent off.

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The Socceroos win would have been greater it not for some impressive work from Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong, who foiled the Australians on several occasions, particularly in the second half.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold continued to rotate his team, making nine changes to the side that started in Australia’s last-start 5-1 thrashing of Chinese Taipei.

Signs were ominous early for Nepal, with the Socceroos needing just six minutes to take the lead.

Left back Aziz Behich was the provider with an inch-perfect cross that was met by Leckie, who headed home 13th goal for Australia.

Scorer turned provider in the 38th minute when the impressive Leckie cut the ball back into the path of Karacic, who in just his second appearance for the Socceroos scored his first international goal.

Already down 2-0, Nepal’s task become even tougher in the 45th minute when they were reduced to 10 men with the dismissal of Chand.

The 29-year-old defender was a shown a straight red card for a last-man foul on Boyle, who had been found with a sublime flick from Leckie.

The Socceroos were in no mood to show their opponents any mercy, with their dominance rewarded with at third goal in the 57th minute from Boyle.

The Scotland-born attacking weapon netted from close range after being found at the far post with a perfectly timed pass from his Hibernian teammate Jackson Irvine.

But try as they might, the Socceroos couldn’t increase their lead any further against a Nepal side that defended desperately.

Arnold’s men conclude their Group B campaign on Wednesday morning against Jordan.

Swapping gloves

The Socceroos started with a third different goalkeeper in three games, with Sydney FC gloveman Andrew Redmayne earning just his second national team cap, having debuted for Australia in June 2019 in a 1-0 friendly loss to South Korea.

Redmayne, behind Mat Ryan and Danny Vukovic in the custodian pecking order, had little to do as Nepal failed to mount any significant attacks.

He was replaced in the 83rd minute by the fourth keeper in the current Australian squad, former Melbourne Victory gloveman Lawrence Thomas, who made his international debut.

Australia 3 (Leckie 6’, Karacic 38’, Boyle 57’) d Nepal 0 at the Jaber Al-Hamad Stadium, Kuwait City.

Socceroos: Andrew Redmayne (Lawrence Thomas 83’), Fran Karacic, Milos Degenek, Harry Souttar, Aziz Behich, Jackson Irvine, Connor Metcalfe, Martin Boyle (Awer Mabil 72’), Ajdin Hrustic (Ruon Tongyik 83’), Mathew Leckie (Jamie Maclaren 62’), Mitch Duke (Nikita Rukavytsya 62’).

Sports reporter

Sydney

Marco Monteverde is a Brisbane-based sports reporter for NCA Newswire. He worked in a similar role for The Courier-Mail from 2007 to 2020. During a journalism career of more than 25 years, he has also worked fo… Read more

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