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Take it as red, this is some rivalry

Date

Sebastian Hassett

Socceroos 1 Japan 1

Jade North and Keisuke Honda compete for the ball.

Jade North and Keisuke Honda compete for the ball. Photo: Getty Images

THE SOCCEROOS didn't win against Japan last night but as far as honourable draws come, this ranks up there with the best of them.

Following on from last Friday's scoreless draw with Oman, questions arose about how much this team had to offer and whether the old guard had enough in the tank to make it through the World Cup qualification stage.

On the evidence, they'll land in Brazil with petrol to spare. Such a spirited display was reminiscent of Socceroos displays of yesteryear, and while some may criticise their technical ability and tactical nous, their determination cannot be challenged.

Vital goal ...  Luke Wilkshire celebrates after scoring the equaliser.

Vital goal ... Luke Wilkshire celebrates after scoring the equaliser. Photo: Getty Imahes

First, consider the opponent. Filled with stars of European and Asian club football, Japan were expected to play Australia off the park. They tried but every defence-splitting pass seemed to be met with a crunching tackle or desperate lunge. Whatever Japan concocted, Australia countered, and then countered some more.

Eventually the final whistle sounded and the 40,189 on hand finally had a chance to exhale. The action had been that frantic.

If there was a downside, it was that the surface stopped the Japanese from playing to their potential. Yevgeny Kafelnikov once called the surface at the nearby Queensland Sport and Athletic Centre a ''potato field'' after a Davis Cup tie and such sentiments wouldn't have been out of place for Suncorp Stadium. There was barely more grass than dirt but it suited the Aussies just fine.

Luke Wilkshire is chased by Shinji Okazaki. Click for more photos

Socceroos v Japan, June 12th, 2012

Ever since Germany 2006, Australia v Japan has become a marquee matchup in the Asian conference. Photo: Getty Images/Robert Cianflone

The Socceroos were then dealt a serious blow shortly after kick-off when Mark Bresciano picked up an injury, leaving manager Holger Osieck in a bind. With Carl Valeri already starting, it gave the midfield pairing a distinctly defensive feel to bring on Mark Milligan, who took just 11 minutes to pick up his first yellow.

Every time the match threatened to settle into a pattern it would broken up by a moment of inspiration or error. Japan's patient build-ups often resulted in Australian counter-attacks, and vice-versa.

The hosts' front pairing of Tim Cahill and Alex Brosque, whilst unorthodox, offered plenty. Cahill, in particular, was like a provoked terrier. He challenged for everything and made a nuisance of himself. He played like he had something to prove, probably because he did, having been picked ahead of Josh Kennedy.

However, if Cahill keeps imposing himself and bothering the opposition like he did last night - particularly the Japanese defensive pairing of Yaukui Konno and Yuzo Kurihara - there's no reason he can't regain his starting spot for good.

Any hopes of Australia going for the win, however, were seemingly snuffed out when Milligan was shown his second yellow card, although replays confirmed he was dreadfully unlucky.

Then, on 65 minutes, the inevitable happened and Japan had their goal. Keisuke Honda played a clever one-two but with Nikita Rukavytsya - who had just come on moments earlier - failing to block Honda's surging run, Kurihara was left with a simple tap-in.

But the match swung back dramatically and unexpectedly five minutes later when Atsuto Uchida was spotted with his arm around Brosque at a corner. The referee issued a yellow card and, more importantly, a penalty. Luke Wilkshire made no mistake.

Sensing their chances had been revived, the Socceroos pressed for a winner and nearly found it when Sasa Ognenovski squeezed out a deflected shot that bounced off the underside of the crossbar. Kurihara was sent off in the final minute but the result - a fitting one - was already decided.

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Round 1
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1vs BRI 3 Stats
Fri, 09 OctTimes shown AEDT
ADE 0vs VIC 0 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 3vs PER 2 Stats
SYD 1vs MCY 1 Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
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Round 2
Fri, 16 OctTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1vs WSW 1 Stats
Sat, 17 OctTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs SYD 1 Stats
VIC 3vs MCY 2 Stats
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
BRI 2vs CCM 1 Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 23 OctTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs VIC 0 Stats
Sat, 24 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 3vs BRI 2 Stats
SYD 1vs WSW 0 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 3vs CCM 1 Stats
PER 3vs ADE 1 Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 30 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 2vs NEW 3 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs SYD 3 Stats
BRI 3vs ADE 0 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1vs PER 0 Stats
Mon, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 3vs WEL 0 Stats
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Round 5
Thu, 05 NovTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2vs MCY 4 Stats
Fri, 06 NovTimes shown AEDT
SYD 0vs BRI 0 Stats
Sat, 07 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 08 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs WEL 1 Stats
Wed, 16 DecTimes shown AEDT
PER 1vs VIC 0 Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 13 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 4vs ADE 2 Stats
MCY 0vs WSW 3 Stats
Sat, 14 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs CCM 1 Stats
SYD 2vs VIC 4 Stats
Sun, 15 NovTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1vs PER 0 Stats
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Round 7
Thu, 19 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 20 NovTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1vs MCY 1 Stats
Sat, 21 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW 2vs WEL 1 Stats
PER 0vs SYD 0 Stats
Sun, 22 NovTimes shown AEDT
ADE 0vs NEW 0 Stats
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Round 8
Thu, 26 NovTimes shown AEDT
SYD 0vs WEL 0 Stats
Fri, 27 NovTimes shown AEDT
MCY 5vs PER 1 Stats
Sat, 28 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs BRI 1 Stats
VIC 2vs ADE 1 Stats
Sun, 29 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM 0vs WSW 2 Stats
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Round 9
Thu, 03 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs MCY 5 Stats
Fri, 04 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD 1vs NEW 0 Stats
Sat, 05 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 2vs VIC 0 Stats
WSW 2vs BRI 1 Stats
Sun, 06 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1vs PER 0 Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 11 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2vs SYD 1 Stats
Sat, 12 DecTimes shown AEDT
BRI 2vs WEL 1 Stats
WSW 2vs VIC 0 Stats
PER 2vs CCM 1 Stats
Sun, 13 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs MCY 4 Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 18 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs ADE 0 Stats
Sat, 19 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs SYD 1 Stats
MCY 2vs VIC 1 Stats
PER 2vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 20 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 0vs BRI 1 Stats
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Round 12
Thu, 24 DecTimes shown AEDT
WSW 2vs NEW 0 Stats
Sat, 26 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 3vs WEL 0 Stats
SYD 4vs CCM 1 Stats
Sun, 27 DecTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1vs PER 1 Stats
BRI 3vs MCY 1 Stats
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Round 13
Thu, 31 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 3vs WEL 1 Stats
Fri, 01 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW 0vs ADE 0 Stats
Sat, 02 JanTimes shown AEDT
BRI 2vs PER 1 Stats
MCY 2vs SYD 2 Stats
Sun, 03 JanTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs VIC 1 Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 08 JanTimes shown AEDT
CCM 3vs VIC 3 Stats
Sat, 09 JanTimes shown AEDT
SYD 2vs NEW 0 Stats
MCY 3vs WSW 2 Stats
PER 1vs ADE 3 Stats
Sun, 10 JanTimes shown AEDT
WEL 0vs BRI 0 Stats
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Round 15
Fri, 15 JanTimes shown AEDT
VIC 4vs BRI 0 Stats
Sat, 16 JanTimes shown AEDT
ADE 3vs CCM 1 Stats
WSW 1vs SYD 2 Stats
PER 2vs MCY 2 Stats
Sun, 17 JanTimes shown AEDT
NEW 3vs WEL 1 Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 22 JanTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1vs ADE 4 Stats
Sat, 23 JanTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 24 JanTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs PER 6 Stats
Mon, 25 JanTimes shown AEDT
MCY 3vs WEL 1 Stats
Tue, 26 JanTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1vs SYD 0 Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 29 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW 4vs MCY 3 Stats
Sat, 30 JanTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs CCM 3 Stats
SYD 1vs BRI 3 Stats
PER 3vs VIC 2 Stats
Sun, 31 JanTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1vs NEW 0 Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 05 FebTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2vs SYD 2 Stats
Sat, 06 FebTimes shown AEDT
BRI 4vs CCM 0 Stats
VIC 1vs WSW 1 Stats
Sun, 07 FebTimes shown AEDT
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NEW 2vs MCY 1 Stats
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Round 19
Fri, 12 FebTimes shown AEDT
BRI 2vs NEW 2 Stats
Sat, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
SYD 1vs PER 2 Stats
MCY 2vs VIC 2 Stats
Sun, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
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WSW vs WEL 17:00Pirtek Stadium
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Round 20
Fri, 19 FebTimes shown AEDT
VIC vs ADE 19:40AAMI Park
Sat, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs WEL 17:15Hunter Stadium
SYD vs WSW 19:30Allianz Stadium
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Sun, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
MCY vs CCM 17:00AAMI Park
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Round 21
Fri, 26 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs MCY 17:30Westpac Stadium
WSW vs PER 19:40Pirtek Stadium
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ADE vs BRI 17:15Coopers Stadium
VIC vs SYD 19:30AAMI Park
Sun, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs NEW 17:00Central Coast Stadium
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Round 22
Fri, 04 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs WSW 20:00Suncorp Stadium
Sat, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs ADE 17:15Westpac Stadium
MCY vs SYD 19:30AAMI Park
Sun, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs VIC 17:00Central Coast Stadium
Mon, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
PER vs NEW 20:00nib Stadium
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Round 23
Fri, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs MCY 19:40Coopers Stadium
Sat, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs WEL 17:15Allianz Stadium
BRI vs VIC 19:30Suncorp Stadium
PER vs CCM 21:40nib Stadium
Sun, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs WSW 17:00Hunter Stadium
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Round 24
Fri, 18 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY vs BRI 19:40AAMI Park
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CCM vs SYD 17:15Central Coast Stadium
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WEL vs PER 15:00Westpac Stadium
VIC vs NEW 17:00AAMI Park
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Round 25
Fri, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC vs WSW 19:40AAMI Park
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NEW vs PER 17:15Hunter Stadium
BRI vs SYD 19:30Suncorp Stadium
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ADE vs CCM 17:00Coopers Stadium
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MCY vs WEL 19:30AAMI Park
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Round 26
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs CCM 19:40Pirtek Stadium
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WEL vs VIC 17:15Westpac Stadium
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BRI vs NEW 17:00Suncorp Stadium
PER vs MCY 19:00nib Stadium
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Round 27
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
MCY vs ADE 19:40AAMI Park
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CCM vs NEW 17:15Central Coast Stadium
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WEL vs WSW 15:00Westpac Stadium
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Sydney FC 19 7 5 4 28
Adelaide United 18 7 5 3 27
Perth Glory 19 7 8 0 25
Newcastle Jets 19 5 9 -12 20
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