Villa’s recently converted centre half Mile Jedinak Captained Australia as they struggled in torrid conditions against Iraq.
The game was played out in pouring rain in Tehran, Iran, (neutral venue) in a match best described as “tense”.
Jedinak, initially deployed in midfield, visibly reverted to a centre-back role as the game worse on, so deep were the Australian’s. Although some blame has since been attached to the Aussies changing their formation.
Australia led through a first half goal, but succumbed to a late Iraqi equaliser as the (awful) pitch deteriorated and the hosts bombarded with long balls.
Despite soaking up much of the attacks (no pun intended), the Aussie defence gave out in the end.
Villa’s marauder Jedinak faced the media afterwards reflecting:
A couple of times we did let ourselves down on that. We’ll have to address it.
It’s disappointing to concede after all that pressure, the boys are hurting but we have to move forward.
We as a group, and me as the captain of the team, take responsibility for that. It caused us more problems than it should have done, no doubt about that.
But in saying that we had a couple of chances, we did impose ourselves on the game at times and it wasn’t entirely physical. But that was a large component, and we’ll have to address it and move forward.
Source: Daily Telegraph (Australia)
The draw impacts of Australia’s progress, with them now trailing Saudi Arabia & Japan in their World Cup 2018 Group.
Whilst Villa have seen the best of Jedinak in recent months since his arrival from Crystal Palace, it remains to be seen what toll the long-haul flights and extra games will take upon him & the longevity of his career.
Jedinak will faces another fixture, this time back in Australia, as they face the UAE in their follow-up game of this international break.
This is now a must-win game for both sides if they are to maintain hope of qualification.
In anticipation of this, Jedinak has forewarned their opponents to expect an “intense physical battle”.
Rather them than me!