Pablo Bateson will attend all of Australia’s 2014 World Cup qualifying matches. He followed the Socceroos from Lebanon to Jordan as the journey to Brazil continues.
By full time in Amman, the shock of an incomprehensible defeat rippled through the Australian supporters’ like a Mexican wave at the cricket.
Just over ninety minutes earlier, things were so much different. The fans were in high spirits at the ritual pre-game gathering of core supporters. The mood flowed onto the coach trip to a stadium nestled in the heart of Jordan’s Palestinian community.
A large supply of Socceroos flags were distributed to eager fans and expats, with an estimated 300-400 within our section. The terrace-style King Abdullah stadium doesn’t feature any conventional seating, which only served to bond fans closer together.
The absence of a scoreboard or match clock fostered conversation and not one Australian imagined what would unfold.
The feverish support of the capacity crowd of partisan, but good-natured Jordanians ensured this was the most intense atmosphere at an away venue for a Socceroos match that I have experienced since our visit to Tashkent’s Pakhtakor Stadium in September 2008.
In response, we waved an array large banners and tifos. What we hoped was an impressive display of green and gold to remind our team of the commitment to support their mission.
If you didn’t see what happened next, you’ve no doubt read about it. From our point of view the two first half injuries which required early substitutions seemed to exacerbate Australia’s on-field problems that were there for everyone to see. As passes missed their mark, long balls reigned down with increasing desperation and the confidence grew among the home side, our concern intensified.
Although the tempo lifted after half time, the host’s counter attacking forced the error that led to the first goal. A second goal looked to finish the Socceroos off, as sustained chanting from the Jordanian fans echoed around the compact arena.
Some of us retained hope and the chants of 'C’mon Aussie, C’mon Aussie' continued, especially after Archie’s late magic provided the potential for another ‘get out of jail’ opportunity. Alas, Robbie Kruse failed to take a golden chance in the dying minutes.
With a backdrop of euphoric celebrations after full time, our stunned contingent left the stadium within minutes to lament a demoralising loss. Most home fans remained respectful as we departed with many handshakes and exchanges being very largely positive. Sadly a small number went too far, throwing rocks at us and shattering the window of our bus as it left the stadium.
This unsavoury incident in no way reflected the wonderful hospitality and treatment of our supporters throughout the week.
In the light of a new day and given further quiet time to properly reflect, this is not the time for recriminations, finger pointing and blame shifting, or panic. Holger Osieck has said he'll make the necessary changes to get the team back on track.
Our collective resolve must be to strengthen a commitment towards the goal of qualification. The vision for taking our place and participating at Brazil 2014 just got tougher, so now we have to rise to new challenges. As fans, let’s keep the unconditional support coming, starting against Iraq in Doha next month. C’mon Aussies.
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