On Saturday, Australia defeated India 2-0 in their Asian Cup opener, with Jackson Irvine and Jordan Bos scoring from close range to kick off their championship challenge.
Australia made hard work of the first half in front of a deafeningly pro-Indian crowd at Doha’s Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, missing a few solid chances while the underdogs defended raggedly and watched potential to pounce on the break.
Irvine, on the other hand, scored immediately after the break, smashing home from 10 yards after India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu came for a cross only to flap it back into danger.
As Indian legs fatigued and Australia coach Graham Arnold took advantage of his squad’s depth, the 2015 Asian Cup winners assumed complete control.
Soon after the 70th minute, Bos extended Australia’s lead.
After fellow substitute Riley McGree fizzed the ball hard and low across the box from the byline, the 21-year-old tapped home from six yards only seconds after coming off the bench.
Bos came close with a few minutes left when he was unmarked at the left post, but pulled his attempt wide.
A relatively ordinary encounter did provide one moment of regional football history, when Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita became the Asian Cup’s first female referee.
Even as their team’s prospects of scoring diminished under the desert heat, Indian supporters among the official crowd of 36,253 maintained a strong shout throughout.
Igor Stimac’s team should expect a boisterous crowd for all of their Group B games in a host nation with a sizable Indian community.
On Thursday, they will play Uzbekistan before facing Syria.