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Socceroos vs China, FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers, AFC, scores, results, news, player ratings, Mat Ryan, Milos Degenek, Ajdin Hrustic, highlights



The Socceroos slumped to a third consecutive World Cup qualifier without victory in a 1-1 stalemate with China on Wednesday morning.

Milos Degenek, replacing injured central defender Harry Souttar, put to rest many of the serious doubts over how Australia would cope without the towering Scottish-born rising star.

And while Mitch Duke found the net and staked his claim to be the regular starting striker, it was a dismal night for Graham Arnold’s five substitutes.

Here’s how every player performed in the disappointing draw.

REPORT: Brutal VAR burns Socceroos in China draw with World Cup dream under dark cloud

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China and Australia go head-to-head | 00:39

AUSTRALIA vs CHINA — MATCH CENTRE: Stats, video, line-ups and more

Mat Ryan: 7.5

Forced to do more than he’d like, he patrolled his box well and made several good sweeping plays to clear danger. But he could easily have been punished for a diving header that fell to Wu Lei who missed the open goal. Could do nothing about the same player’s well-taken penalty.

Rhyan Grant: 5

Faced a serious competitor in the tough Aloisio but won the physical battle more often than not. Got forward well but struggled to deliver a decent cross.

Trent Sainsbury: 5.5

Once again good defensively, with crucial interceptions and tackles, he played with characteristic toughness. Slapped himself in the face after one poor pass in China’s half sailed straight out for a throw. And it nearly got worse when he headed a ball back towards goal only for it nearly to be intercepted, though he was rescued by Mat Ryan’s desperate scrambling.

Aussies cop tough VAR decision | 01:05

Milos Degenek: 7.5

Degenek looked comfortable alongside Sainsbury and hardly put a foot wrong all game, outmuscling his opponents and passing confidently – which was especially crucial going forward as he assumed the main ball-playing role in Harry Souttar’s absence. Was clearly energised at being back in the starting XI, as his stoppage-time stoush showed.

Aziz Behich: 6.5

Dangerous down the left, especially a brilliant driven cross along the six yard line in the 36th minute that should have been punished but found only defenders waiting. He crossed relatively well all game but was guilty of a couple of poor shots form range.

James Jeggo: 6.5

Without his unlucky handball that turned the match, you could count it as another fine game for the defensive midfielder. Graham Arnold’s tactic of having Jeggo drop deep in possession, regularly forming a three-man central defensive partnership, allowed the fullbacks to push forward. Jeggo was very good defensively, breaking up play regularly and retrieving loose balls, and he distributed extremely well – missing just one of a game-high 63 pass attempts. The penalty was unfortunate but the correct call, and he had given away the foul that led to the set-piece cross in the first place.

Jackson Irvine: 5.5

Irvine played reasonably, bossing the midfield for much of the game with his toughness and hard tackling (though he perhaps gave away a couple fouls too many in the process). But he missed an absolute sitter, just as he did against Saudi Arabia. And it was in almost identical fashion – fed a square ball from the left, and poking it well wide of the back post. Had he scored that early chance, the game could easily have been very different. Struggled to make an impact in the final third, although he fed Martin Boyle the ball for him to set up the only Australian goal.

Irvine’s near-identical missed chances | 00:28

Ajdin Hrustic: 6

Gave the ball away too regularly in the middle of the park – a rarity for the brilliant passer – which China pounced on and counterattacked with pace and directness.

But some of his passes were superb and weren’t rewarded as they should have been. That included brilliant searching balls which put Behich and Mat Leckie through into the box, though both chances were spurned. He created space for himself in the midfield and was positive going forward.

Mat Leckie: 5.5

It was often a case of his boots not following the brain’s instructions in this game. He made intelligent runs to get in good positions but couldn’t make them count. His final touch and his shooting were poor. Lively down the wing.

Martin Boyle: 7

Brilliant in the first half, his crosses were almost always the most dangerous of Australia’s balls into the box thanks to his movement behind China’s defence. Got a deserved assist for a pinpoint cross, and made dangerous runs into the box – one drew a goal-saving sliding tackle, another run without the ball saw him in prime position to tap in a Behich pass which never came.

Leckie was lively but couldn’t convert decent chances.
Leckie was lively but couldn’t convert decent chances.Source: AFP

Mitchell Duke: 8

So often the bridesmaid (or in this case the substitute) of Australia’s striking corps, Duke was given a rare chance to start and made it count with a well-taken finish – his fifth in 2021. Service into the box wasn’t always great, so his chances were limited, but his immense workrate on and off the ball lifted the level of the Socceroos’ defensive pressure.

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Jamie Maclaren: 4

Almost invisible, looked a little rusty from the lack of game time. Didn’t manage a shot.

Fran Karacic: 5

Woefully beaten one-on-one by Wu Xinghan in the 87th minute, though the Chinese wide man overhit his cross after charging into the box. Karacic made some amends a minute or two later when he beat a defender and whipped in a dangerous cross.

Riley McGree: 3

Touched the ball twice in 14 minutes. Enough said.

Awer Mabil: 5.5

Provided a little spark but couldn’t make an impact.

Nikita Rukavytsya: 4

Attempted three passes, made one. Poor.

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Socceroos vs China, FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers, result, analysis, talking points, stats, standings, ladder, Graham Arnold



Winless in three games, the Socceroos’ hopes of automatically qualifying for the Qatar World Cup next year are hanging by a thread.

With four games to spare – and the next match not until January – there is plenty of time to improve, and equally as much room for improvement.

Here are the biggest talking points from the 1-1 draw with China on Wednesday morning.

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Mitch Duke has forged a reputation as Australia’s striking super-sub. But today he made a massive statement to coach Graham Arnold that he should be the starting centre-forward in the crucial qualifying games to come.

After Australia’s attack struggled to make inroads against Saudi Arabia and Japan, Arnold was rewarded for his decision to turn to the 30-year-old to reignite things. Duke threw himself about tirelessly in attack and defence, leading from the front – literally – with his workrate and physicality. He had precious few chances, but made no mistake with a bullet header to open the scoring seven minutes before the halftime break.

PLAYER RATINGS: Boots fail to follow brain for one Socceroos star as key flaw sets alarm bells ringing

Irvine’s near-identical missed chances | 00:28

Duke has regularly played the super-sub role to perfection, sparking the Socceroos to life late in games both in offence and with his defensive pressing. His two goals in six substitute appearances this year for the Socceroos are a strong return.

But his record as a starter is superb – after a brace against Chinese Taipei back in June, Duke now has three goals from as many starts in 2021.

In total, he boasts seven goals from 15 appearances in the green and gold – and five in just 358 minutes of action in 2021. That’s a goal every 71.6 minutes.

With Adam Taggart missing, Graham Arnold needed someone to step up. Against China it was Duke – not Jamie Maclaren, who hardly touched the ball when he replaced Duke in the second half. Arnold might just regret bringing Duke off the bench against Japan and Saudi Arabia as the Aussie offence was stifled – and he shouldn’t leave him on the pine for too many crucial games going forward.


When Harry Souttar went down clutching the back of his knee against Saudi Arabia on Thursday night, serious concerns were immediately raised – not just over the future of the gifted 23-year-old who looked set to receive Premier League transfer bids in January, but also for the Socceroos’ defence.

But Milos Degenek put many of those fears to bed with a fine performance at the heart of defence. From the opening minute he was focussed, making tough tackles and outmuscling what was a very physical China side. His passing was crisp and composed, especially important given he had to take over from Souttar’s role as primary ball-player when playing alongside Trent Sainsbury. Sainsbury looked nervous at first but settled into the game as the first half wore on, and the Socceroos could easily have had a clean sheet if not for the unfortunate penalty.

Aussies cop tough VAR decision | 01:05

The cover provided by central defensive midfielder James Jeggo was also crucial to the defensive solidity. It would be easy to write off China as a ‘weak’ team offensively, especially given their slow start to this stage of qualifying. But with the trio of Brazilian converts starting together for the first time, plus the 12-goals-in-14-games of Wu Lei, it was clear this China side was significantly more dangerous than the one the Socceroos outclassed 3-0 in September.

Degenek and Sainsbury will likely be the starting combination for the next nine to 12 months as Souttar recovers from his ACL injury, though Bailey Wright and Ryan McGowan are both more than capable of performing on the international level. It is always hard to fill a Souttar-sized hole – nearly two metres of Scottish-born brawn – but the early indications are that Degenek can build a solid Socceroos wall at the back.


Bomb the ball into the box and hope it finds an Aussie head, or rebounds kindly to a Socceroo. That’s been the primary attacking tactic in many of the Socceroos’ recent games – and it’s simply not an effective one.

When Duke headed home in the 38th minute, he was assisted by the 15th cross by the Socceroos in the game. Yes, it’s a reflection of the upper hand that the Australians had in the match, but it’s not necessarily the best approach – especially against well-drilled defences of teams like Saudi Arabia and Japan. That’s particularly the case given where many of those crosses were delivered from: not behind the defensive line of China, but from significantly deeper positions, typically from well further back than the edge of the penalty area. That was clearly not an accident, with the strategy aimed at crossing early and catching China’s defensive line in motion, only the Socceroos’ tempo was far too slow to push the issue or unsettle defenders.

China and Australia go head-to-head | 00:39

Martin Boyle’s assist was an anomaly, and a reflection of his crucial ability to exchange quick passes and get behind the defence before delivering the ball. But time after time the crosses were rushed, wayward, or both. And when the crosses were pinpoint, all too often the players weren’t in the right spots to get on the end of them. On one occasion, Duke exchanged passes with Aziz Behich and played the fullback behind the defensive line. But when Behich perfectly fed a square ball along the six-yard line – a golden opportunity for someone to poke home – no one had filled Duke’s gap and made the run to the near post. On another occasion, Jackson Irvine DID run toward goal as Behich squared the ball to his feet, only for Irvine to miss the easy finish, just like he did with an identical chance against Saudi Arabia.

The stats (courtesy of Fox Sports Lab) lay the issue bare: 15 crosses against Japan, 23 against Saudi Arabia, and 19 against China — 57 combined crosses creating just one goal, and just one point from a possible nine. It might work against teams who aren’t defensively disciplined, as was often the case in the Socceroos’ recent 11-match winning streak. But to get beyond tougher tests, the Socceroos must get far more out of their box bombardment – or find a more effective path to goal. Right now, the Australian attack is less of a razor-sharp knife than a nicely rounded river rock trying to hammer opponents into submission.


The Socceroos have recently made a habit of starting slowly and finishing even more sluggishly. Against Japan, they conceded inside both the opening ten minutes and the final ten minutes. China’s best periods of the match came in the opening ten minutes, and in the final 20 after the penalty shock changed the game after which Australia attempted zero shots to their four. Against Saudi Arabia, both teams started in a frenetic fashion, but the Socceroos were out-shot 5-1 in the final 15 minutes. That momentum swing late in the game came after Harry Souttar’s ACL injury, while the penalty massively shifted the China game. Both moments understandably rocked the Socceroos. But on both occasions the Socceroos suffered a late fade-out – and substitutions did nothing to turn the tide.

Against China, Graham Arnold made all five allowed changes in the space of just 12 minutes (72nd to the 84th). Against Japan and Saudi Arabia, he also made five changes but, in both cases, the final two substitutions occurred in the 87th minute or later – a last roll of the dice. Some substitutes have unfortunately been forced, like Souttar last game or withdrawing Duke after he copped a knock today. But the back-up brigade have struggled almost as one, and it’s been a major factor in the Socceroos’ inability to close out games from strong positions.

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Iran goalkeeper threatens Zohreh Koudaei legal actions after Jordan gender accusations



The goalkeeper for the Iran women’s soccer team has hit back after the Jordan Football Association (JFA) accused her of being a man.

Zohreh Koudaei, 32, defended herself when responding to the JFA’s request for a “gender verification check”.

“I will sue the Jordan FA,” Koudaei said, according to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. “I am a woman. This is bullying from Jordan.”

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The allegation came after Iran beat Jordan in Uzbekistan on September 25, to qualify for its first ever Women’s Asia Cup. Koudaei saved two penalties in the 4-2 shootout victory.

A team manager for Iran denied the gender allegation and said the Jordanian team was looking for an “excuse” for losing the match.

After the game, the JFA reportedly approached the Asian Football Federation (AFC) about Koudaei’s gender.

Iranian goalkeeper Zohreh Koudaei saved two penalties in the 4-2 shootout victory against Jordan. Photo by Talibjan Kosimov/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Iranian goalkeeper Zohreh Koudaei saved two penalties in the 4-2 shootout victory against Jordan. Photo by Talibjan Kosimov/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

In a letter dated November 5, the JFA cited doubts over the “eligibility of a participating player” and claimed the Iranian women’s team “has a history with gender and doping issues”.

The JFA requested for the AFC to “initiate a transparent and clear investigation by a panel of independent medical experts to investigate the eligibility of the player in question and others on the team”.

The President of the JFA, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, addressed the letter in a tweet on the weekend, calling the allegations “very serious issue if true”. He also called on the AFC to “please wake up”.

A spokesman for the AFC said, “The AFC does not comment on ongoing investigations and/or proceedings, whether actual or potential.”

Iran’s coach, Maryam Irandoost, told sports outlet Varzesh3: “The medical staff have carefully examined each player on the national team in terms of hormones to avoid any problems in this regard, and so I tell all fans not to worry.

“We will provide any documentation that the Asian Confederation of Football wishes without wasting time.”

The 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup will begin in January in India.

Jordan has called for an investigation over Zohreh Koudaei. Photo: Twitter.Source: Twitter

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission

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