Australia Unlucky To Lose To Turkey
A solid performance by the Socceroos was not enough for victory on Monday evening, losing to Turkey 1-0 at Telstra Dome.
By Ben Lewis A solid performance by the Socceroos was not enough for victory on Monday evening, losing to Turkey 1-0 at Telstra Dome. Despite lacking key strikers, a strong crowd of 28,953 people saw a brave effort from the Socceroos, who were unlucky not to score against the World Cup semi-finalists. Turkey-s goal came from a superbly taken free kick in the 45th minute, Nihat Kahveci scoring from just outside the penalty box. Qantas Socceroo coach Frank Farina was pleased with the performance of his players in the lead up to the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign. “I think all of us are disappointed with the result but I felt we played extremely well,” he said. “It was important we improved and I felt we did that.” Captain Tony Vidmar was happy with the improvement of the team from Friday night-s first leg, singling out the defenders for special mention. “Friday night was the first time the back four had played together,” he said. “I think we played it much sharper to the guys in the midfield and up front.” In a match dominated by the midfield, chances flowed from the outset. Brett Emerton came out firing in the third minute, showing promise with a run down the right side of the pitch, but his cross to Stan Lazaridis was wayward. Turkey-s new look line-up was taking time to gel and made few inroads into the strong Qantas Socceroo defense, led by Vidmar and Steve Laybutt. A powerful run from Max Vieri soon after led to a string of chances for Australia, the ball eventually falling to Josip Skoko, who was unable to get the power required from 30 metres out of goal. Turkey-s first real chance came in the ninth minute, Serkan Balci breaking away on the right of the pitch. His cross to Nihat Kahveci was too high to connect with however, not troubling goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac. While Turkey-s midfielders were given space on Friday night, the Socceroos kept the pressure on the visitors this evening, forcing the ball forward at every opportunity. Marco Bresciano-s shot in the 12th minute was powerful but met by goalkeeper Rustu Recber.
Turkey immediately counter-attacked, with striker Hakan Sukur racing clear from halfway, but he missed his shot as Laybutt hassled to shoot from outside the area. Both sides had their chances in the following minutes, although neither goalkeeper was greatly troubled. Vieri showed good form with a powerful shot, which was answered soon after by Turkey midfielder Tuncay Sanli-s strike from a midfield pass. The Socceroos continued to press forward, a header from Vieri was followed by a shot from just inside the box, but both were met with the safe hands of Recber. Although lacking accuracy in attack, Turkey showed passion in defense, Bresciano-s threatening run in the 24th minute cut short by a diving Bulent Korkmaz. Two-goal hero from game one Sukur, while kept quiet did go narrowly wide with a header, while Kahveci showed his prowess from the dead ball with a shot from the left that went inches above the goal to the relief of a leaping Kalac. The closest Australia came to a goal was in the 37th minute, when they were awarded a free kick 30 metres out. Bresciano struck his free kick that Rustu just managed to get a hand to it and forced it onto the crossbar. After building the pressure in the final minutes, Turkey scored with only minutes until half time, Kahveci-s free kick thundering past Kalac. Despite having the attacking ascendancy throughout the first 45 minutes, the Socceroos went into half time down 1-0. Turkey went on the attack early in the second half, Akin darting through the box and feeding the ball to Balci, whose low shot was just wide of goal.
The Socceroos threatened to score only moments later, a pinpoint accurate cross from Vince Grella to Vieri being stopped by substitute goalkeeper Volkan Demirel. Australia-s best chance of the match was in the 59th minute, a floating Grella pass falling in front of the running Bresciano. Taking a shot from 10 metres out of goal, Bresciano sliced the ball to the left of goal. A Lazaridis corner in the 68th minute almost resulted in a goal, Emerton-s shot was blocked by Demirel, the ball rebounding to Laybutt whose header was cleared off the line by Korkmaz. From the resulting corner, Laybutt should have scored when presented with a free header right in front of goal, but his header sliced wide of the far post. With ten minutes remaining, Turkey slowed the pace of the match, moving forward less frequently but controlling the ball in the midfield and defense.
Kahveci had a chance to score a second goal from a free kick in the 85th minute, but his shot from 35 metres out of goal was inches over again. A late header from Seyhan Tolga bounced off the crossbar, the final score 1-0 to Turkey. While Turkey justified their world ranking of seven, it was an impressive effort from the Socceroos in the lead up to the Oceana Qualifying Tournament in Adelaide. “We-ve got seven or eight players who would be playing… who week in, week out, play at a competitive level,” said Coach Frank Farina. “It looks good for the upcoming games.”