Australia 5-0 Nepal: World Cup 2022 qualifier Ė as it happened

Richard Parkin on 10 October 2019


Job done in Canberra, as nearly 20,000 fans go home happy as Australia secure a comfortable win against Asian minnows, Nepal.

76% possession and 36 shots at goal for the Socceroos - you canít window dress it, it was a mismatch. Australia looked especially lively early on (and Nepal conversely, very nervous) with early goals suggesting the game could turn into a rout. Whether Australia eased off, or Nepal became more confident, as a spectacle the game quickly ebbed away in the second half.

For coach Graham Arnold it was an opportunity to blood some new faces - a debut handed to former Olyroos protege Harry Souttar - while fringe players also got some decent minutes. With Chinese Taipei to come in five days time, the ĎRoos boss spoke about the importance of building depth at the international level.

The depth is definitely growing, the concern may well be however quality. That will be for another day, however, when the Socceroos face a much more difficult opponent.

A credit to Nepal for sticking to the task, but it was a fairly straightforward affair. Two played, two won - the long march to Qatar in 2022 continues to build nicely.

And if you missed any of the action - hereís the full-time write up:

The positives:

A hat-trick for Jamie Maclaren - great for the striker, whoís translated his domestic FFA Cup form onto the international stage.

A goal on debut for Harry Souttar, who troubled Nepal no-end with his height and strength from the set piece.

A clean sheet, no injuries, some good minutes for fringe and younger Socceroos.

The negatives:

At times it looked limited in the build up - dangerous from the set piece, Australia created very few chances of real merit from open play.

As Nepal became more compact, Australia reverted more to the flanks. Crosses are by definition a low-percentage play - against more well-organised defences the speed of ball will need to be much quicker and greater rotations and variety will be needed, especially through the middle.

A fun stat from Australiaís pre-eminent football statistician, the one-and-only Andrew Howe:

Itís a remarkable run - especially given the troubles Australia has had a left back over the past few years (or possibly ever since Scott Chipperfield hung up his boots).

Alex Gersbach has struggled for consistent game time over the years in Europe, while Jason Davidson appears to have fallen down the pecking order.

It wasnít a five-star display from Behich, but it will do his confidence no harm to keep getting the starting nod.

And with that result, Australia return to the top of Group B - two played, two won, eight scored, none conceded.

There is of course a key group fixture taking place later today as Jordan play host to Kuwait. Theyíre the two stronger rivals in the pool, with Jordan the only other undefeated team at this early stage.

There is of course a very preliminary feel to the Asian Football Confederation Second Round pool competition - donít forget, thereís a whole another round of round robin clashes to come in the Third Round - you do however have to earn the right to participate in that, even if the quality of opposition can at times be a little less than desired.

So - your thoughts on that performance, Socceroos fans? The result was of course pretty clear cut, but did Australia show enough against for when theyíll face tougher opponents?

Outside of an unfortunate own-goal there was very little goal threat in the second half until that 89th move involving Milligan, Irvine and Maclaren. Will that concern Graham Arnold?

Full-time: Australia 5-0 Nepal

90 + 1 min: Three minutes added on is the word from the touchline, and Australia push for one last goal, while Nepal for their part drop deeper yet.

And thereís the final whistle. Points secured, no injuries and a clean sheet. The Socceroos take one more step closer to Qatar - job done.

World Cup qualifier, Australia v Nepal
Awer Mabil looks to beat his man. Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images


Goal! Australia 5-0 Nepal (Maclaren)

89 min: And thereís his hat-trick! Itís a clever flicked pass from Irvine off the chest, and Maclaren controls well to rifle home from close distance once again. Milligan the skipper fired the first ball in - a well-executed move from the Socceroos.

88 min: Itís another freekick, and this time itís Mabil who strikes it - but it flies just over the crossbar! Heís annoyed with himself, but in truth it wasnít a bad effort.

86 min: A final change, and itís the hard-working Bishal Rai that makes way, Santosh Tamang comes on.

A set piece to Australia, and itís Hrustic whose standing over it. Has he got a Ronaldo-esque freekick in his locker?

He hits it well, but it just clips the top of the wall. Danger averted.

85 min: All a little too static from the Socceroos, Nepal have looked increasingly comfortable this second half, channelling backwards to get plenty of bodies in the way centrally.

83 min: Mabil looks to fashion something, before it breaks for Giannou - but his driven effort is blocked. It almost leads to a good transition opportunity for Nepal, but Irvine nips in well to cut out the danger.

81 min: A fine ball into the box from Mabil, heís looked lively since coming on.

Itís patient from the Socceroos in build up once again, but the attempted cross-field ball is cut out.

78 min: A chance for Nepal to counter quickly, but the first-time ball wide is slightly overhit and it flies into touch.

A second sub for the visitors, and it appears the striker Anjan Bista is making way for the defender Devendra Tamang. Not sure if thereís a tactical adjustment, or whether personnel will shift positions to maintain the same structure.

75 min: Australia ready their third and final change, it looks like Awer Mabil is getting ready, presumably for Leckie?

Heís drifting deep, the Hertha Berlin man, looking to work some one-twos. And it is Leckie that makes way.

73 min: If youíre the Socceroos coaching staff, would you be happy with the way playís been building up?

Theyíre reverting to a lot of crosses - obviously the aerial threat is an area of advantage - but has this come at the expense of attacks from more dangerous areas?

70 min: Some patient possession at the back for the Socceroos, Nepal are now starting to drop a little deeper.

A nasty head clash, as Bailey Wright goes down. Heís back on his feet, but doesnít take kindly to Gharti Magarís marginally late challenge.

68 min: 18,563 the official attendance in Canberra tonight. Not bad for a frosty eve in the nationís capital.

And we could be about to see a second cap for another rising youngster, Ajdin Hrustic, who comes on to replace Goodwin.

66 min: And itís the Nepalese wonderkid - a surprise starter from the bench - Bimal Gharti Magar - who comes on. Letís see what threat he can pose the Socceroos backline.

63 min: A reminder, Australia will be in action again in five days time against Chinese Taipei, some Graham Arnold takes the opportunity to shuffle his pack.

Heís not looking entirely pleased on the sideline, the Socceroos coach. Theyíve not looked as dominant since the break, it must be said.

61 min: Ooph. Jackson Irvine just canít buy a goal tonight. Theyíve done well to get bodies in the way, Nepal, and itís another blocked shot, when the goal net beckoned!

A first sub for Australia - itís Apostolos Giannou comes into the action, and a slight tactical adjustment, as the Socceroos switch to two up-front and the hard-working Mooy makes way.

Goal! Australia 4-0 Nepal (o.g.)

58 min: IItís the set piece once again that undoes Nepal - Souttar again rises highest to head goalwards. Itís not the most convincing of headers, but it clips a player in blue en route to goal, and trickles agonisingly past Chemjong in goals.

A heart-breaker for Nepal fans. A very sloppy and unfortunate goal to concede.

56 min: Some good scrapping in midfield, as Nepal look to contest possession. Perhaps a little more self-belief after the break? Coach Kalin might have had some inspirational words during the interval.

And a corner for Australia, as Maclaren almost trickles home a clever jabbed effort.

53 min: An update on the half-time stats: Australia with over three-quarters of possession (77%), 20 shots, six on target and five corners. So pretty emphatic.

SAVE! And now itís a terrific stop from the skipper - who denies Goodwin a debut goal in Socceroos colours. It was a fine header from an acute angle, but the Ďkeeper made himself big and blocked well.

50 min: And itís a corner to Nepal - to the delight of their fans inside Bruce Stadium.

Itís lofted nicely into the mix from Bishal Rai, but itís the skipper Milligan who clears well with the head.

Itís been a little brighter, this start from the visitors. Can they get a foothold into the match?

48 min: A chance for Irvine! But he canít quite fire a curling effort on target. Heís had a few sighters, the midfielder. Three goals in his 31 caps for Australia - letís see if he can grab number four tonight.

Second half!

And weíre back! Nepal get us going this half, but again itís Australia quickly onto the front foot.

And a bit of half-time cross-promotion - this has just launched across the Guardianís various international sporting pages:

I enjoyed speaking to Joeyís coach Trevor Morgan about rising Australian prospect Noah Botic for this series. All the very best to the youngster as he looks to lead the line at the upcoming U17 World Cup in Brazil.

Half-time: Australia 3-0 Nepal

But, thatís the close of the action. More or less one-way traffic, but some fine passages of play from Australia.

A few players confront the referee to argue the toss about that disallowed goal, but otherwise youíd imagine theyíd be more or less pleased with their showing thus far, the Socceroos.

World Cup Qualifier, Australia v Nepal
Watch the ball, not the player - olí ďsnake hips LeckieĒ will get ya. Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images


44 min: Another gorgeous cross-field ball sprayed by Mooy, and brought down nicely by Goodwin. Theyíre certainly using the full width of the pitch, and itís had Nepal shuttling side-to-side. But Irvine canít quite get on the end of it.

And is it a fourth to Leckie? Goal disallowed! Replays suggest the deflection came of a Nepalese player, not teammate Maclaren, so no grounds for a potential offside there.

42 min: A close up of the Australian bench, who are rubbing their hands and huddling like penguins. It really is deceptively cool out there in Canberra it seems.

Nepals fans squeal with delight as their side cross halfway. But the move comes to nought.

39 min: A slight break in play and some concerns for the Nepalese defender who has bravely thrown himself in the way of a Mooy-humdinger. That was absolutely travelling, but deflected away from danger by the inadvertent head. Heís back on his feet, thankfully, albeit a little groggily.

And as the 37th minute pops up, a perhaps appropriate reference this, fired through from Ross McFarlane:

Letís hope for football globally it doesnít get to that.

35 min: This is better from the skipper Chemjong. We thought he might be vital tonight and thatís a great come and claim from Behichís cross. Some early handling errors, but heís settled well, and showing some of the pedigree we expect from him

32 min: And it is that man Mooy who fires in a dangerous free kick - it just clips the top of the wall and flies over.

And from the follow up, a well-driven effort from Milligan, but itís well saved and held by Chemjong.

In lieu of some emails, hereís a text message from my mum:

ďThis team should be called Ryan (sic) Grant and friendsĒ.

Not sure if itís just the mullet, but somebodyís clearly a BIG fan. Bit harsh on Mooy, imho, mum.

29 min: Itís another corner, and another sense of real anxiety inside the Nepalese box. Theyíre struggling to come to terms with Australia from set piece - the delivery has been excellent from Mooy and Goodwin, and the height and strength differential is proving very hard to defend against for Nepal.

26 min: So, in the spirit of midgame spot-quizzes - we have Harry and John Souttar, brothers playing for different nations. Can you think of another iconic Socceroo/non-Socceroo family duo?

Iíve got one in mind, and can happily say I was there for his debut: who needs Christian Vieri - when youíve got Max Vieri.

Goal! Australia 3-0 Nepal (Souttar)

23 min: And would you believe it! Less than a quarter of the game gone, and itís a goal on international debut for the youngster, big Harry. Itís another set piece, and the 2m centre back drifts through some paper-thin marking to nod home.

His brother is a Scottish international - on this early evidence Australia might be licking their lips at securing the allegiance of this lad. Terrific start for him.

An early tweetís come in re expected scoreline tonight:

I was about to say donít get greedy, but as that second goal flew in, I had a sinking suspicion this might not be far off the money.

Goal! Australia 2-0 Nepal (Maclaren)

19 min: Itís a double for Maclaren, but itís a goal made in two acts before it. Aziz Behich with an excellent whipped delivery to the far post, where his opposite fullback Rhyan Grant arrives late and then picks out the striker expertly with a fine header back across the box. No mistake from the Melbourne City striker, who grabs himself an early brace.

16 min: A corner to Australia, which Craig Goodwin looks to fire in, and again itís the massive centre back on debut, Souttar, thatís the target.

Chemjong comes and punches clear this time - thatís better from the Nepalese skipper.

14 min: A rare touch for Maty Ryan in the Australian goal. Great to see the two Brighton and Hove Albion stars, Ryan and Mooy, making the long journey to Australia, before returning no doubt to Premier League action.

11 min: Some very hard passes pinging round - did somebody sneak in some Jabulanis out there?

A credit to Nepal, theyíre looking to press Australia early, get plenty of bodies in midfield and cut out the passing lines. They havenít come to sit back - weíll find out shortly if that proves courageous or foolhardy.

8 min: Post! Not the start Nepal were hoping for, and itís again the dead ball delivery of Mooy that causes havoc - Irvine at the far post who redirects onto the far post and clear!

The Nepalese defence had eyes on the 2m tall Souttar - heís really got an outrageous height advantage on some of these Nepali players.

Goal! Australia 1-0 Nepal (Maclaren)

5 min: Itís another flap from the skipper in goals, calamity for Nepal! Aaron Mooy feeds in a well-weighted set piece cross, itís driven goalwards but Chemjong can only fend the initial shot, right into the path of Jamie Maclaren who was first to respond, and he tucks home from 5m out - just his second ever Socceroos goal!


4 min: SAVE! Thereís a crush of bodies inside the Nepalese box, as Leckie turns well to pick out a teammate. But itís only knee-ed goalwards by Jackson Irvine, before a melee ensues, and is eventually cleared.

3 min: Itís a fast and furious start, as Australia look to bomb on. The ball pings round, as both sides misplace some early balls.

2 min: Oh my! Almost the worst possible beginning for Nepal, as the skipper Chemjong drove a clearance into the back of his own defender, and the ball almost ricocheted over the Ďkeeperís head!

Kick off!

1 min: And weíre off! Australia with the ball. Almost a comical beginning as the big countdown to kickoff signed on the board, but the Nepalese team were still in a group huddle. Thankfully Australia elected to play backwards and give their opponents a chance at regathering.

Ooph. The recording of the Nepalese anthem sounds like itís been played on a Casio MT 68. Not that the players appear to have minded or taken any disrespect. Itís followed by a gorgeous a cappella rendition of Advance Australia Fair. Nice.

The word from the touchline is that Nepal could line up in a 4-5-1, so between that and a Swedish coach, expect it to be a reasonably defensive looking approach from the visitors.


A fair smattering of the distinctively shaped Nepalese flags inside Bruce Stadium. Letís hope thereís something to enjoy tonight for Nepalese fans, on an otherwise chilly night in Canberra.

And our players are out onto the pitch, kickoff wonít be too far away.

ďItís an important qualify, my expectations are certainly very highĒ coach Graham Arnold said pre-game.

Heís increasingly looking like a Wes Anderson character actor, the 54-cap former Socceroo, sporting a salt-coloured grey beard and increasingly weathered air. Letís hope his team donít play tonight with the sense of ennui of a retired shipís captain.

So - without further ado, to team news - and the headline story is a full Socceroos debut for young defender Harry Souttar. The 6 ft 6 in centre back will partner Bailey Wright in the centre of the park. A great occasion for the 20-year-old.

Jamie Maclaren gets the nod ahead of Adam Taggart up front, while skipper Mark Milligan returns to anchor the midfield, and Craig Goodwin gets an opportunity to impress from wide left.

Assistant coach Rene Meulenstein told media pre-game the staff are very happy with the state of the playing surface:

ďThe pitch is in really good condition. I expect that we can see some really good, attacking quality football tonight in these great conditions.Ē

Itís a game that Graham Arnold and his staff will Expect To Win (TM). But when the opposition is relatively unknown it does always float some interesting question marks over a match.

Nepalís Swedish coach Johan Kalin has an association with football in the tiny Himalayan nation going back 7-8 years, so he should know his squad and the landscape pretty well. Nepalís technical director is a man reasonably familiar with Australia n football as well - look out for some Sydney Olympic flags in the crowd tonight - hopefully Gary Phillips hasnít passed on too many intimate trade secrets.

Hi all! Gíday and Namaskar to you, from wherever around the world youíre following our coverage today.

If its from Canberra, get off your phones for Peteís sake, and get down to Bruce Stadium and enjoy it all, live. Although, a public service announcement for any off-duty intelligence officers, maybe donít log on the free wifi - the Five Eyes network will thank you for it later.

As always we love to hear from you ahead of kick off - fire me an email or tweet with your predictions or insights ahead of this one.

These two nations have never met at international menís level - we could be in for a big score tonight. But Canberra fans, donít hold your breath if you donít see six again.. (too soon?)


The road to the World Cup is a journey of a thousand tiny steps.

Separated by over 100 places in footballís world rankings and at home in the nationís capital itís not expected that minnows Nepal should pose Australia too many questions. And yet every match against Asian opposition adds more to the Socceroosí collective knowledge of this vast and diverse continent.

A first game on home soil of the 2022 campaign, Graham Arnold and his staff will be looking to impress home fans, whilst continuing to build in terms of playing style and processes and no doubt taking the opportunity to blood some new talent.

On paper Nepal lack the depth of talent to seriously challenge Australia, but boast some talented individuals - who knows, maybe prodigy Bimal Gharti Magar will add to his growing reputation, or skipper Kiran Chemjong might put on a virtuoso display between the sticks to frustrate his hosts.

Itís still early days on the journey to Qatar. So sit back, Socceroos fans, and enjoy the game played in every corner of this remarkable planet.

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