Group A: Match 2 - Aussies beat gutsy Samoans 6-0

SYDNEY: Australian coach, Frank Farina's Olyroos started their Athens qualification campaign with an unconvincing 6-0 victory over a ten-man Samoa at Marconi Stadium last night.

Full credit must go to the Samoans for providing an unexpectedly stern challenge to the highly fancied Aussies who went into the break lucky to be ahead 1-0.

The Samoans frustrated Australia, and the fair crowd on hand, for most of the opening stanza and managed to avoid conceding a goal in open play. Frank Farina's men struggled to cope with the slippery conditions and seldom produced flowing and coherent football.

The breakthrough didn't come until the 26th minute when referee Peter O'Leary awarded a dubious penalty against Ted Losi Sikovi for bringing down Luke Wilkshire.

The Bristol City midfielder stepped up to the spot and placed the Olyroos into the lead with a cool low strike to Pasi Schwalger's left. However, Sikovi's bad night did not stop there.

Just four minutes later, referee O'Leary brandished a straight red card to the tall defender on the advice of his linesman for an off the ball incident.

Ten minutes further on, the visitors almost turned the game on its head when Michael Toleafoa struck the crossbar with a looping long range effort that left Eugene Galekovic stranded.

But for all their tenacity, the Samoans went into break with nothing to show for, bar the respect of the crowd at hand for what was a gritty first half performance.

Farina introduced Northern Spirit striker Dylan MacAllister at half time at the expense of Ryan Griffiths, who had a poor half considering his recent performances. The move saw Alex Brosque revert to a role down the left flank with MacAllister joining Brett Holman up front.

The Australians fronted for the second half knowing that anything short of a goal feast would only reinforce recent claims in the media that this current squad is among the weakest that Australia has produced at under 23 level.

Thankfully for the home side, it didn't take long for the goals to come as within five minutes Ahmad Elrich had the ball in the back of the net. Elrich showed great class in finishing off a terrific through ball from Young Socceroo Carl Valeri.

At 2-0, the floodgates opened and by the end of the match, the Olyroos had racked up six goals.
Brosque, substitute Michael Thwaite and Holman got themselves on the scoresheet, with Elrich adding a second.

Holman's goal was the pick of the bunch. After some great one touch passing featuring Brosque, Elrich and Valeri, Holman was left with a simple tap in to take the score to 5-0.

Apart from his goal, Holman looked desperately out of touch for most of the game and will need to show more to convince Farina that he is worthy of a starting berth as the tournament progresses.

Skipper Ljubo Milicevic was the standout for the home side, constantly testing the Samoan defence with occasional runs forward and steering the ship faultlessly from the back.

Coach Farina acknowledged improvement by the island teams in his after-match summary.
"I can't foresee any cricket scores in this competition," said Farina.

"Those results (in Coffs Harbour) were a wake up call and no one likes to see results like that. Even Samoa today were defensively well organised, but, it's up to us to break them down."

It is expected that Farina will make wholesale changes to his starting eleven for the Olyroos next outing against Papua New Guinea on Friday.
Samoan coach David Brand felt that his charges gave a reasonable account of themselves and hinted that they have plenty more to offer for the rest of the tournament.

"We were outplayed and to be honest, we were expecting that," said Brand philosophically.
"But I'm proud of the boys and we'll continue to work hard and improve and try to get a result out of our remaining matches,"
"At the end of the day, I'm proud of the guys who gave it all for their country out there." - By Benjamin Coonan

Match 2: Australia vs Samoa / Statistical Review

Full-time score: 6-0 (Australia)
Half-time score: 1-0 (Australia)

Date/Time: Wednesday, 14 January - 7:30pm (AEST)

Australia - (10) Luke Wilkshire 27' pen, (14) Ahmad Elrich 49', 77', (11) Alex Brosque 55', (16 sub) Michael Thwaite 67', (9) Brett Holman 72'

Cautions: Samoa - (16) Richmond Desmond Faaiuaso 28'
Expulsions: Samoa - (18) Ted Losi Sikovi 30' (violent conduct elbowed opponent)

Weather: Overcast, mild 21 degrees, some light rain
Crowd attendance: 2095

Match Officials:
Referee: Peter O'Leary (New Zealand)
Assistant Referee 1: Paul Dunham (New Zealand)
Assistant Referee 2: Wayne Stapley (New Zealand)
Fourth Official: Derek Rugg (New Zealand)

Match Commissioner: `Ahongalu Fusimalohi (Tonga)
Referee Inspector: Barry Such (Australia)

Team Line-ups (& Substitutes)

1. Eugen-Josip Galekovic (GK)
2. Jade North
3. Shane Cansdell-Sheriff (-60')
4. Ljubo Milicevic (c)
6. David Tarka
8. Ryan Griffiths (-45')
9. Brett Holman
10. Luke Wilkshire (-67')
11. Alex Brosque
14. Ahmad Elrich
15. Carl Valeri
5. Jonathan McKain
7. Matthew Graham McKay
12. Dylan Macallister (+45')
13. Michael Beauchamp
16. Michael Thwaite (+60')
17. Anthony Pelikan
18. Michael Turnbull (RGK)
19. Nicholas Carle (+67')
20. Spase Dilevski

Coach: Frank Farina

1. Pasi Schwalger (GK)
2. Filipo Bureta (c)
3. Peniamina Timo (-53')
6. Kiwi Timo
10. Bevan Kapisi
11. Ioane Ioane (-75')
12. Michael Toleafoa (-68')
14. Penitito Tumua
15. Lolo Lui
16. Richmond Des Faaiuaso
18. Ted Losi Sikovi
4. Sakaria Fuimaono (+53')
5. Iupeli Ioane
7. Joseph Hoeflich (+75')
8. Afasene Tusitala (+68')
9. Ioapo Ava
13. Ki Anufe
17. Otto Hunt
19. Sio Togamoa
20. Fatuvalu Numia

Coach: David Brand


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