Australia’s Asian Cup defence started on the worst possible note as it lost 1-0 to Jordan in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday night.
Despite Awer Mabil hitting the post and Jamie Maclaren having his 86th-minute effort ruled out for offside in the second half, the Socceroos could not break down a resolute and disciplined Jordanian side urged on by vociferous support at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium.
The Socceroos started nervously and fell behind in the 27th minute when centre back Anas Bani Yaseen was left unmarked in the penalty box to unleash an unstoppable header past Mat Ryan.
Jordan pull off one of the biggest upsets of the early tournament after knocking off current Asian Cup holders Australia 1-0. The fantastic win came from this Anas Bani Yasin header pic.twitter.com/JoXFdnaC0T
— ArabBallers (@ArabBallers) January 6, 2019
Ryan came to the rescue little more than three minutes later when he tipped a blistering Baha Abdel-Rahman free kick onto the crossbar, enabling the Socceroos to go to the break only one goal down.
Australia had a big appeal for a penalty for a handball turned down just before the break. But the referee waved away the appeals.
Coach Graham Arnold reacted by replacing right back Josh Risdon with Rhyan Grant at half-time, allowing his side to attack more down the flank.
Celtic midfielder Tom Rogic spurned another major chance in the 72nd minute, when he blasted his shot over the bar after a clever Aziz Behich cutback.
And Mabil was unlucky when his driving shot from the edge of the box rebounded off the post in the 78th minute, but the Jordanians outsmarted their more fancied rival with slick counter attacks and superior defensive organisation as an increasingly frustrated Australia was allowed to dominate possession.
Socceroos captain Mark Milligan said his side had paid for being “lethargic”, particularly when conceding from a set piece.
“We know we have to be better if we want to progress and want to succeed in this tournament, but I still think there were good signs in how we want to play,” Milligan said.
“I don’t think we were panicking but we can be more patient. We just need to settle down and keep our composure.
“This will hurt everyone – it’s hurting me at the minute … but we’ll let Arnie have his say and will get to work on focusing on the next game.”
The win was Jordan’s third over Australia in recent years, with previous victories in 2012 and 2015.
Australia next plays Palestine on Friday at 10pm, before finishing its Group B matches against Syria on Wednesday, January 16 at 12.30am.