Honduras v Australia – Socceroos ultimately click on in highest away efficiency in 0-zero …

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By James Maasdorp

About Honduras
Honduras ( ( listen); Spanish: [onˈduɾas]), officially the Republic of Honduras (Spanish: República de Honduras), is a republic in Central America. It has at times been referred to as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became modern-day Belize. Honduras is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca, and to the north by the Gulf of Honduras, a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea.
Honduras was home to several important Mesoamerican cultures, most notably the Maya, before the Spanish invaded in the sixteenth century. The Spanish introduced Roman Catholicism and the now predominant Spanish language, along with numerous customs that have blended with the indigenous culture. Honduras became independent in 1821 and has since been a republic, although it has consistently endured much social strife and political instability, and remains one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate.
Honduras spans about 112,492 km2 and has a population exceeding 9 million. Its northern portions are part of the Western Caribbean Zone, as reflected in the area’s demographics and culture. Honduras is known for its rich natural resources, including minerals, coffee, tropical fruit, and sugar cane, as well as for its growing textiles industry, which serves the international market.

Honduras v Australia: Socceroos finally click in best away performance in 0-0 …

About Australia:

The Socceroos react to a missed Tomi Juric chance
Photo:

Don’t let the goalless draw fool you. The Socceroos were excellent value in San Pedro Sula. (AP: Moises Castillo)

Related Story:
Socceroos in box seat after scrappy 0-0 draw in Honduras

Map:
Honduras

It was frustrating, and there’s still some work to do, but anyone following the Socceroos these past few years knows the performance in San Pedro Sula was the best in a long while from the men in green and gold.

Honduras v Australia: Socceroos finally click in best away performance in 0-0 …

The intercontinental play-off for World Cup qualification between Australia and Honduras remains 0-0 after the first leg, but despite frustrations in front of goal, the Socceroos enjoyed a day where the tactics finally clicked for Ange Postecoglou.


Look back at how the action unfolded in Australia’s 0-0 away draw with Honduras in our live blog.

Shorn of three key players in Robbie Kruse, Mark Milligan and Mathew Leckie, Australia proceeded to dominate Honduras in midfield, coupled with a genuinely positive performance at the back.

“I thought [the performance] was fantastic,” Postecoglou said after the match.

“Considering the Honduran fans — I said to the boys at half-time that they could actually hear my instructions, that’s how dominant we were.”

The only real issue remains up front, with Tomi Juric’s lack of a cutting edge as a forward costing the Socceroos the chance of taking at least a 1-0 lead into Sydney.

But with the Sydney leg to come, with the aforementioned trio filtering back into the squad, there are plenty of positives to take from one of the better away performances from the national team in recent years.

Mile Jedinak: Like he never left

On the treatment table for an interminable length of time, Mile Jedinak slotted back into his midfield position in national colours with consummate ease.

Mile Jedinak contests the ball against Honduras
Photo:

Mile Jedinak returned to his central midfield spot with the captain’s armband, and immediately bossed proceedings. (AP: Moises Castillo)

He was always fronting up to a tough task, both to last the 90 minutes and to play the sheriff role in the wild west of Honduras’ tough-tackling, but he anchored Australia’s midfield with the authority of old.

The perfect screen for the back three, Jedinak also proved dangerous at set pieces when Mooy’s free kicks did find Australian heads early on in the match.

Massimo Luongo, Asian Cup edition is back

At one point the pundits thought Massimo Luongo was the rising star of this team after his stellar showings at the 2015 Asian Cup brought continental glory to our shores.

Massimo Luongo competes for the ball
Photo:

The 2015 edition of Massimo Luongo came back to shine against Honduras. (AP: Moises Castillo)

Since then, his star has waned slightly after his move to Queens Park Rangers, with Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic taking turns to burn brighter for the Socceroos.

Against Honduras, Luongo reminded us all of what he can offer, with telling runs from central midfield into dangerous areas, causing defenders all sorts of panicky moments.

His cut in to the box in the first half saw him force an excellent save from the Honduran keeper, before he put in a number of zipping crosses in the second half, at least one of which should have been put away for the winner.

Sainsbury offers calmness at the back

One flaw in the Socceroos’ game-plan — regardless of which tactic Postecoglou has opted to deploy on the day — has been the backline leaking like a sieve.

Trent Sainsbury shepherds his man
Photo:

Trent Sainsbury was an assured presence at the back. (Reuters: Jorge Cabrera)

Trent Sainsbury led his back-three partners in Matt Jurman and Bailey Wright — and late on, Milos Degenek — with aplomb, greatly helped by Jedinak’s presence in front of the back line.

The odd breaks Honduras did enjoy, which at first looked very troublesome, were extinguished by some desperate lunges for the ball, but by and large Sainsbury’s men were positioned well to deal with the majority of the hosts’ efforts.

We now know who our number one left-back is at last

Or left wing-back, for the pedants at the back. Aziz Behich has been battling it out for the spot with Brad Smith, and Behich looks to have won the fight to be a crucial cog in Postecoglou’s flexible formation.

Aziz Behich shields the ball
Photo:

Aziz Behich staked his claim to be Australia’s undisputed number one left-back against Honduras. (AP: Moises Castillo)

While Mooy’s set piece ability deserted him in the first leg, the playmaker’s saving grace was the way Behich dovetailed with his midfield partner on the left-flank, causing Honduras all sorts of angst with combination passes and cross attempts.

The mistakes and general nerviness we’ve come to associate with the position was gone as Australia was able to work the ball calmly from the back, often through Behich, into more advanced positions.

Topics:

socceroos,

soccer,

sport,

soccer-world-cup,

honduras,

australia