Pleasing signs all over the park as Caltex Socceroos impress in draw

It took just a few first-half minutes for the Caltex Socceroos to demonstrate a fluid and free-minded attacking system in Saturday evening's 1-1 friendly draw with Korea Republic.

And for a team he admits are still a work in progress, Graham Arnold will undoubtedly be pleased with what he saw in Queensland.

Arnold called for his side to showcase their energy and movement in Friday’s pre-match press conference, and the Caltex Socceroos clearly took those words on board.

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Exuding confidence and streaming forward with swagger from the opening whistle, the Caltex Socceroos looked good in the early stages of Saturday’s battle with their AFC Asian Cup 2015 Final opponents.

On another day, Australia may have found themselves a couple of goals up in next to no time.

Josh Risdon grazed the side netting, Tom Rogic fired two efforts narrowly off target and Aaron Mooy flashed a thunderous volley just over the crossbar in a swashbuckling period of early dominance.

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It was the type of football Arnold has promised to deliver during his tenure, and the central reason why the 55-year-old revealed he had a dressing room bursting with pride after the match, as opposed to one lamenting missed opportunities.

Australia produced seven shots in that spell, ultimately conceding a sucker-punch goal on the counter attack.

Hwang Ui-jo’s 22nd minute effort was so against the run of play it left the 32,922 fans watching on at Suncorp Stadium rattled.

But it was then a mark of the team’s character, and evidence of the variety of weapons Arnold has at his disposal, that helped swing the balance of the match in Australia’s favour.

And that should have the Caltex Socceroos in a buoyant mood as they prepare to face Lebanon on Tuesday.

The impact of second-half substitutes Awer Mabil and Martin Boyle added pace and put Korea Republic back on their heels, with Mabil particularly impressive.

Having opened his Caltex Socceroos account on debut in last month’s 4-0 win over Kuwait, Mabil once again offered a reminder how quickly his star is rising, creating two chances and unleashing two shots on goal in an exciting cameo.

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And the fact that Australia did eventually get the reward their performance may have deserved late on could be yet prove to be a galvanising moment in the grand scheme of their upcoming AFC Asian Cup title defence.

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This article was originally published on the Caltex Socceroos website.
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