Socceroos scrap out 2-0 qualifying win over Bangladesh

Anna Harrington |

A deflected Ajdin Hrustic (R) strike has helped the Socceroos on their way to victory in Bangladesh.
A deflected Ajdin Hrustic (R) strike has helped the Socceroos on their way to victory in Bangladesh.

The Socceroos couldn’t put Bangladesh to the sword but coach Graham Arnold insists a scrappy 2-0 World Cup qualifying win, plus Nestory Irankunda’s debut, still left him happy in humid Dhaka.

The frustrating game against world No.184 Bangladesh was effectively a dead rubber given Australia have already progressed to the next round of qualifying, while they claimed top spot in Group I with Thursday’s win.

Ajdin Hrustic’s deflected long-range strike in the 29th minute and Kusini Yengi’s header in the 62nd proved the difference in sweltering conditions on a shabby, waterlogged pitch at the Bashundhara Kings Arena.

“I’m happy,” Arnold said.

“I think I lost five kilos there on the sidelines.

“What people don’t understand probably is the humidity here. It’s about 43 degrees.

“Nestor was very good. He’s obviously got a lot to learn and a long way to go. But it was great to see him on the pitch.”

Irankunda, 18, was already a confirmed debutant but received a shock start from Arnold – then notched an assist as he flashed in and out of the game.

“Could’ve done better with my performance. But I’m really proud to be capped for the nation and it’s dream come true,” he said.

“We’ve done well for the conditions.

“I don’t know how hot it is here – it’s humid as hell. I guess we struggled with the heat but we still got the result that we came for – a clean sheet as well.”

Australia’s performance was marred by poor crosses and finishing but Jordy Bos was superb.

The roaming left-back worked tirelessly and was Australia’s main creative outlet.

The Socceroos dominated possession as Bangladesh sat deep – but recorded just four shots on target from 15 attempts.

Hrustic also hobbled off after consecutive physical challenges shortly after half-time.

Nestory Irankunda.
Nestory Irankunda made his Socceroos debut in the hard-fought win over Bangladesh. (AP PHOTO)

Soon after, Duke was hacked down close to goal but his pleas for a penalty fell on deaf ears, while the striker fluffed a header in the 27th minute.

Australia broke through when Irankunda found Hrustic, whose long-range strike took a cruel deflection into the back of the net.

Bangladesh managed a shot through Rakib Hossain in the 33rd minute – though it was so far off target it literally ended up in the car park.

Bos was denied a penalty when he was sandwiched by three Bangladesh defenders in the 39th, and four minutes later Duke missed again with a header.

Irankunda provided a glimpse of his precocious talents in the 58th minute when he beat a defender and danced into the area.

Four minutes later, Bos floated in a wonderful ball that a leaping Yengi superbly nodded home.

Daniel Arzani replaced Irankunda in the 64th minute, his first cap since the 2018 World Cup, and showed exciting flashes, albeit without reward as the game petered out.

The Socceroos will head straight to Perth for Tuesday night’s final qualifier against Palestine.