The Qantas Socceroos have qualified for the 2005 Confederations Cup in Germany, having claimed their fourth OFC Nations Cup by virtue of a convincing 6-0 win over the Solomon Islands at Aussie Stadium tonight in front of a crowd of 19,208.
The six-goal margin took the aggregate score over the two match series to 11-1, meaning the OFC Nations Cup returns to Australian shores after a four-year absence.
Ante Milicic started the deluge of goals in the fifth minute, before Harry Kewell, Tony Vidmar, Archie Thompson, Ahmad Elrich and finally Brett Emerton added a goal each to extend Australiaĺ─˘s unbeaten run to seven matches.
Australian coach Frank Farina was understandably contented with his sideĺ─˘s performance and relieved the Socceroos passage to Germany in 2005 was now assured.
ĺ─˙Itĺ─˘s always tough for the players to come into games like that where youĺ─˘re 5-1 up,ĺ─¨ said Farina after the match.
ĺ─˙I was pleased, I thought they carried on with it in the second half, the three guys that came on added a lot of spark.ĺ─¨
Although thoroughly dominating the first half, Australia got on the scoresheet only twice, with both goals arriving in the opening exchanges.
The slick one touch passing and clever movement of the Socceroos consistently created openings in the Solomons defence, Emerton and Josip Skoko particularly effective.
It was Skoko who was largely responsible for the match opener, after his delicate chip found an advancing Milicic, who made no mistake in poking home his second goal in as many matches for the national team.
Kewell, in his first OFC Nations Cup appearance, was on hand to double Australiaĺ─˘s advantage just four minutes later.
From an Emerton corner, the Liverpool midfielder was able to stab home Tony Popovicĺ─˘s header into the back of the net, a goal that effectively killed the Solomons early enthusiasm.
Following Kewellĺ─˘s goal, the Solomons grinded out a determined half hour of soccer, negating whatever attacks Farinaĺ─˘s men could muster with resilient and often desperate defence.
Farina introduced Under 23ĺ─˘s Ahmad Elrich and Jon McKain, as well as Lierse marksman Archie Thompson at the break, in a bid to add some spark to what had been, at times, a flat looking Socceroo outfit.
What followed was much of the same, as the Socceroos constantly peppered the Solomons goal to seemingly minimal avail.
Cardiff City defender Vidmar, the most capped international in the Australian line up, broke the visitors resilience somewhat fortuitously 15 minutes into the half.
Brisbane based midfielder Joel Konofilia headed another Emerton corner straight into Vidmarĺ─˘s path, leaving Felix Ray helpless in the Solomons goal.
Australiaĺ─˘s raids on goal seemed relentless from here on in and three of the Socceroos better performed players of the night had goals to show for it.
Thompson scored his first goal in green and gold colours in three years when he calmly slotted a precise through ball from Emerton on 79 minutes, before turning provider for Elrich in similar circumstances moments later.
Blackburn Rovers midfielder Emerton, arguably the player of the two match series, scored a richly deserved goal in the dying minutes when side footing an unselfish square ball from Milicic to confirm the score line at 6-0.
The Socceroos will now travel to Germany in June 2005 to compete in their third Confederations Cup, where they will meet Greece, Brazil, Argentina, Tunisia, Japan, Mexico and the hosts in what has traditionally been a very successful tournament for the newly crowned Oceania champions.
written by Soccer Australia