Stats analysis: Ikonomidis shines as Caltex Socceroos fire in front of goal
The Caltex Socceroos warmed up for the AFC Asian Cup with their biggest win in two and a half years on Sunday.
Five individual scorers were on target in a confident 5-0 victory over Oman as Graham Arnold’s men flexed their attacking muscles in Dubai.
Impressive passing numbers, the extension of a handy unbeaten run and a standout performance from a young attacker all added up to an encouraging final hit-out ahead of the Group B opener against Jordan on January 6.
Here, we review the best of another positive performance with the help of Opta data.
Early onslaught sets the tone
Speaking after the match, Milos Degenek revealed the side’s tactical brief was to get on the front foot and adopt a proactive attitude based around relentless pressing.
That much was evident in a dominant start that produced three goals in 24 minutes.
Andrew Nabbout, Chris Ikonomidis and Awer Mabil were all on target in the country’s most productive first half in over two years.
A one-sided opening 45 minutes also saw the Caltex Socceroos complete 154 passes in Oman’s half, the most the team has produced in over a year.
The dominance of possession was such that Trent Sainsbury (127) and fellow centre-back Degenek (124) each finished with more successful passes in 90 minutes than any Australians of the last six years.
Ikonomidis’ strong ‘Roos return
The in-form Ikonomidis earned a Caltex Socceroos recall on the back of a sparkling start to the season with Perth Glory and appears set to reap the benefits in national team colours.
The 23-year-old, already on target six times in the Hyundai A-League this term, barely put a foot out of place in his first appearance since March 2016.
His first international goal was a fine left-footed finish and came from one of six shots the attacking midfielder attempted, all from inside the box.
MATURE RETURN: Ikonomidis feeling the benefits of confidence
No other player on the pitch registered more than two shots in total.
Ikonomidis also delivered a game-high seven crosses and it was from his low corner that defender Degenek was able to get on the scoresheet.
It seems the former Lazio flyer is feeling more at home in green and gold than ever before.
Firing in friendlies
This was Australia’s largest ever triumph against Oman and the Middle East nation’s heaviest defeat since a 7-0 loss to Slovenia in February 1999.
The comprehensive success meant the Caltex Socceroos, 3-0 winners against Lebanon last time out, celebrated back-to-back victories for the first time since June.
The team boasts an imposing record across their past seven friendlies, winning five and drawing two.
Three of those victories have come under Arnold, whose move to instil a fluid, high-intensity attacking style has been rewarded with 13 goals in four games.
Now, following their biggest win since a 7-0 defeat of Tajikistan in March 2016, the Caltex Socceroos will seek to translate excellent friendly form into significant results at the AFC Asian Cup™.