‘We’re just getting started’: Ikonomidis buoyed by Socceroos display against Palestine
Chris Ikonomidis says the Graham Arnold era has lift-off after the Socceroos picked up their first win of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ by defeating Palestine in Dubai.
The Socceroos prevailed 3-0 on Friday night (AEDT) thanks to goals from Jamie Maclaren – his first for the national team – Awer Mabil and substitute Apostolos Giannou.
After the opening game loss to Jordan, there was plenty of pressure on Australia, but Ikonomidis said there was no panic in the squad leading into the Palestine clash.
“We just stuck to our tactics throughout the week. It’s a new era under Arnie and we’re really finding our feet now,” Ikonomidis told Fox Sports.
“We were a young front line out there today and it showed in our fluency up front, our diversity and interchanging positions.
“I think we’re just getting started, it’s exciting times ahead.”
Ikonomidis, who was one of three new faces in Arnold’s starting XI, was superb for Australia, setting up the goals for Mabil and Giannou with pinpoint crosses.
But he was one of a string of Socceroos who produced their best, including Maclaren.
The Hibernian frontman hadn’t scored in his first nine appearances for the Socceroos but broke his duck at the perfect time with a brilliant header to open the scoring.
“It’s been a long time coming…but I’ve just stayed on my path,” Maclaren told Fox Sports.
“I’m a goalscorer and it was going to come one way or another. Many people say I can’t head the ball but today I showed them.”
Asked if it was a relief to get that first win of the tournament, Maclaren said: “It’s not that relieving only because we knew what we had to do today, that’s win the game.
“Right from the start we scored two early goals so that really settles us. It’s a great win from the boys and a clean sheet as well helps.”