Australia and Japan have played out a 1-1 draw in Asian Football Confederation’s 2014 World Cup qualifying competition in Brisbane.
It was an extremely controversial match with both sides being aided by poor calls from referee Khalil Al Ghamdi who will certainly need to review the match in order to improve his officiating.
The Socceroos had Mark Milligan, who had replaced the injured Mark Bresciano in the 13th minute, sent off in the 55th for a second bookable offence when he attempted to clear a cross but in doing so, made minimal contact with the arm of Ryoichi Maeda who went down easily. Milligan only had eyes for the ball and the Japanese player was not in his line of vision making it a very questionable choice by Al Ghamdi.
Ten minutes later, the opening goal came for the Blue Samurai when Keisuke Honda played a short corner, got the ball back, then advanced along the byline before sending a neat pass into the path of Yuzo Kurihara who slotted home from close range.
Less than five minutes later, the Socceroos were handed a reprieve when Al Ghamdi awarded a penalty against Atsuto Uchida for putting his arms around the waist of Alex Brosque in the area during a corner. It was the type of contact you see in every football match but the Saudi Arabian ref decided he should give something back to the Aussies with Luke Wilkshire stepping up and firing the spot-kick straight down the centre to make it 1-1.
The controversy did not stop there with Japan also being reduced to ten men in the final minute of regular time when goalscorer Kurihara was given his marching orders for a second yellow for falling into Brosque, making it a dreadful night for the referee, as the Shimizu S-Pulse striker appeared to be offside anyway.
The ensuing free-kick brought about a top save from Japan keeper Eiji Kawashima who scrambled to deny Wilkshire’s curling effort from the set piece giving both sides a share of the points.
To make matters even worse, Al Ghamdi then decided to blow full-time in the fifth minute of stoppage time even though Japan were standing over a free-kick. His performance left a lot to be desired for the standard of officiating in Asia.
Nevertheless, the draw made it two from two for Holger Osieck’s Socceroos who held Oman on Friday whilst Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan now have seven points from three matches to sit on top of Group B.
AFC 2014 World Cup qualifiers
Australia: 1 (Luke Wilkshire (p) 69’)
Japan: 1 (Yuzo Kurihara 65’)
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Red cards: AUS - Mark Milligan 55’
JPN - Yuzo Kurihara 89’