WE were told to expect changes to the Socceroos team.
In the end, there were only two. Those two proved crucial, the star performers as Australia came from behind to clinch a point against Cameroon.
It was a costly result in both team’s hopes of making the semi-final, and it was one of Australia’s most reliable players who will feel disappointed by the manner in which the Socceroos conceded.
Here are the player ratings from Australia v Cameroon…
Mat Ryan: 4
Bold and brave to sweep up and composed with his feet, all his first half work was forgotten with a mistake for the goal before the break. In no man’s land, Ryan left his goal vacant for Cameroon to open the scoring.
Milos Degenek: 7
Two vital interventions when left up against Bassogog on the counter attack – the first to win the ball, the second to show his street smarts by fouling just enough to put his opponent off balance but not enough to draw the ire of the referee. Found wanting for the goal, by allowing Anguissa to get in front of him but redeemed himself with some desperate late defending in the second half.
Trent Sainsbury: 7
Walked a yellow card tightrope all second half – risking a suspension in the final group game. While he did commit a number of fouls on Aboubakar, Sainsbury was physically imposing, winning most balls played up to Cameroon’s No.9 and picking his moments of when to step into midfield with the ball.
Bailey Wright: 6
Up against Cameroon’s most dangerous player, Bassogog, Wright had his hands full. Gersbach’s forward thinking and Bassogog’s cheating without the ball left Wright 1v1 at the back a couple of times. A lot of Cameroon’s second half raids came down his flank.
Mathew Leckie: 5
Committed a couple of cheap fouls to start the match then came into the match where he could have won Australia a penalty. Key with defending set pieces, Leckie also played a brilliant ball into the box for Juric to start the first half. Fatigued late in the second half and the sloppiness kicked in quickly.
Mark Milligan: 6
Scorer from the spot, frequent outlet in possession to help Australia play out, the skipper was a calming presence in the middle of the park.
Aaron Mooy: 6
Playing in a deeper role than he started against Germany. His lack of pace showed when Cameroon broke and wasn’t able to show the moments of class we’ve come to expect.
Alex Gersbach: 8
A masterstroke by Postecoglou to bring him into the starting side? A constant menace down the left, frequently free, Gersbach won the foul for Milligan’s penalty. But there were also three dangerous whipped crosses in the first half that showed his threat in the front third.
Robbie Kruse: 8
Australia’s equal brightest attacker, Kruse caused numerous problems for the Cameroon defence with his darts in behind from midfield. If it wasn’t him getting on the end of passes, his runs created space for teammates. Often down the right his link up play with Leckie created openings. Roos lost a lot when Troisi came on in his place.
Tom Rogic: 7
The quick feet on the edge of the box dazzled in the first half. So often the best moments came when Rogic unlocked spaces after receiving between the lines. In the second half, he was nullified slightly as Cameroon looked to prevent the Celtic man from receiving – including by resorting to fouls which the referee let go.
Tomi Juric: 6
Battled hard and had a glorious chance just a minute into the second half. Aside from that, there was a lot of thankless hold up work done by Juric, using his body to win fouls in dangerous areas with little reward for his efforts.
James Troisi (65’): 4
On for Kruse, failed to make an impact. Looked off the pace.
Tim Cahill (70’): n/a
Jackson Irvine (79’): n/a