AUSTRALIA produced a defiant and proud performance against Ghana on Sunday morning, as the Socceroos kept alive their 2010 World Cup campaign with a gutsy 1-1 draw. Seemingly under fire from an entire nation and with the embarrassment of the 4-0 German thumping in their minds, Australia stood firm after Brett Holman’s first half goal despite having been reduced to ten men.
In need of a minor miracle, and despite its vastly inferior goal difference, Australia will go through if it defeats Serbia (by any score) and if Ghana defeats Germany. – James Belias
Headline-grabber Harry Kewell was shown a straight red card for stopping a certain Ghanaian goal on the goal line with his arm in the 25th minute of the match.
Kewell appeared to move his arm slightly though the movement was most likely an involuntary movement after the ball was riffled goal-wards from close range.
Australia held on for a brave 1-1 draw but Kewell will miss the final Group D match against Serbia, which is shaping up as a battle for second place in the group. Ghana will face a fired-up Germany, who must win after going down to Serbia 1-0 on Friday night.
Ghana leads the group with four points, but Serbia, Germany and Australia can all go through in what has been an unpredictable Group to date.
In need of a minor miracle, and despite its vastly inferior goal difference, Australia will go through if it defeats Serbia (by any score) and if Ghana defeats Germany.
Craig Moore will also be suspended for the Serbia game after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament, though Tim Cahill will play after receiving reprieve in the form of a reduced suspension for his straight red card against Germany. Holman, one of four inclusions into the starting 11, gave the Socceroos the lead after the Ghanaian goal keeper Richard Kingson made a meal of what looked like a straight forward save from Marco Bresciano’s free kick in the 11th minute.
Holman took full advantage of Kingson’s spill to tuck home the rebound past the despairing custodian, who almost blocked the shot.
The goal saw Australia capitalise on a frantic opening in which the Socceroos looked stronger and more interested than their opponents. Indeed, even the most pessimistic Australia fans would have nodded with approval after Australia appeared to put behind them the insipid display against Germany.
But Kewell’s much anticipated return to the national side ended in disaster after being shown the red card for the handball inside 25 minutes. Asamoah Gyan made no mistake from the resultant spot kick, sending Australian custodian Mark Schwarzer the wrong way to level the scores at 1-1.
Though some fans may lament Kewell for giving away the penalty, Luke Wilkshire and Brett Emerton should have stopped Ghanaian Andre Ayew, who danced and weaved his way between the Socceroo duo. Ayew then squared a brilliant ball across the box to the unmarked Mensah, whose shot was headed for the net until Kewell’s intervention.
Despite their numerical advantage, Ghana failed to put Australia to the sword. Indeed it was the Socceroos who had the best chance of scoring a goal the second half as the match was drawing to a close.
Wilkshire got in behind the defence after a great run, but his one-on-one effort was thwarted by Kingson, who made amends for his earlier blunder, coming off his line speedily and keeping the scores level. A devastated Harry Kewell said that there was no way his handball action was deliberate.
“It’s a shame that it happened that way. But if you look at the situation, it’s hit my arm, but it wasn’t deliberate. It was only that I was trying to get my shoulder there,” he said. “Unless I actually detach my arm and put it somewhere else, there is no other way I can move my arm.
I didn’t deliberately go for the hand, I didn’t try and handball it, I tried to use my chest. I was playing by the rules, but the ref saw it another way. He’s probably the only one who did,” Kewell continued.