It was a special moment for Perth Glory star Chris Ikonomidis, scoring his first goal for the Australian National Team last night in Dubai.
With international stars Tom Rogic and Mathew Leckie rested, Australia ran out convincing 5-0 victors over Oman in a preparation match for the defence of their AFC Asian Cup title. Andrew Nabbout, Awer Mabil, Milos Degenek and Jackson Irvine also contributed to the scoresheet.
After a two-and-a-half-year absence from the national team, Ikonomidis featured for a full 90 minutes for the Socceroos. The 23-year-old was deployed as an attacking midfielder in a speedy starting line-up set out by manager Graham Arnold, and after Andrew Nabbout opened the scoring in the 10th minute, Ikonomidis would double the Socceroos advantage just four minutes later.
Australia broke forward down the right wing with Ikonomidis’ former AGF team-mate Mustafa Amini regaining possession in his own half. A smart passage of link up play by Amini and Mabil on the right side saw a looping deflection off the defender spring the offside trap for Perth Glory’s 23 year old star. Letting the ball bounce first, Ikonomidis unleashed a powerful left footed volley that flew past Omani ‘keeper Faiyz Al Rusheidi, off the inside of the far post and into the back of the net.
Mabil added a third and after the half time break, Ikonomidis would claim an intelligent assist for Degenek’s 58th minute goal.
On set piece duty, an improvised corner kick routine saw Ikonomidis drive a low cross into the box to the Red Star Belgrade defender at the front post, who made no mistake in scooping his well-placed shot past Al Rusheidi into the far top corner of the net.
Irvine’s superb volley would round off an impressive five star for the Socceroos, who will no doubt go into their first AFC Asian Cup match against Jordan on January 6 with a renewed sense of confidence.
Until then, the question on every Perth Glory fan’s mind will be; does Chris Ikonomidis start in the tournament for the Socceroos?