Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren scored a hat trick against Nepal. Picture: AFP
Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren scored a hat trick against Nepal. Picture: AFP

No promises for Socceroos hat-trick hero

Update: The Socceroos have strolled to a 5-0 win over Nepal, just about delivering the Canberra crowd the night of capital punishment that their supporters had craved.

A hat trick for Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren was topped up by a rather more unlikely pair for debutant defender Harry Souttar, but it still felt a little like meagre pickings against a side that lost 7-0 to Kuwait last month.

Still Maclaren won't look back on this night with anything other than delight, taking his international tally to five and earning the right to take home the match ball. At the end he had it firmly gripped to his chest, and the City striker might start to feel he belongs at this level.


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If Nepal earned some credit for their obdurate defending, Australia couldn't quite cast off the Canberra chill and sustain the sort of sustained tempo to sweep the visitors aside.

"I was happy with the performance but there's always a lot of room for improvement," said coach Graham Arnold. "We worked hard in our last camp on attacking patterns and it's coming together.

"We're creating the chances and it's now about the finishing touch. In the first half we should have had another couple, but a lot of the boys only got off the plane yesterday and late on Tuesday."

It really was a night of chances spurned, especially once the home side had achieved their dominance - ahead by three goals with just 25 minutes gone, an avalanche seemed in store.



Defender Harry Souttar scored a double on debut. Picture: Getty Images
Defender Harry Souttar scored a double on debut. Picture: Getty Images

Maybe it was too easy, or rather it seemed that way; such a foregone conclusion took some of the urgency away from the Australian attacks, and a number of their key men looked a touch off colour.

The goals were precisely as might have been written out beforehand - Maclaren turned in his first two from close range, one with a boot and the other with his head to confirm his ability for right-place-right-time anticipation.

Both of Souttar's of course were headed in, and his 198cm height promises a rich source of chances in the future - even if few defences will be so mismatched as the diminutive Nepalese rearguard.

The biggest cheer of the night came in the final seconds, when Maclaren chased into the penalty area and lashed in his third. Any hat-trick for your country is special, and after two games he is the leading scorer for Australia in this World Cup journey.

But Graham Arnold will have much to ponder on the flight to Chinese Taipei on Saturday, facing a side likely to offer even less resistance than Nepal.

It's true that this performance came on the back essentially of just a couple of training sessions this week - many players arrived only on Tuesday morning, and there is time to implement only the most basic of game plans.

But Arnold will want that elusive tempo to quicken, for passes to move with alacrity and maybe even a greater willingness to shoot.

"Jamie is great, his movement's fantastic," Arnold said.

"Sometimes playing teams that sit so deep like that maybe doesn't suit him as much as potentially a Taggart or Giannou, they like to play with their back to goal where Jamie doesn't but I'm really proud of the kid to score his first hat- trick for Australia.

"He's worked extremely hard. You could see by his energy for Melbourne City last Wednesday night against Brisbane in the FFACup that his confidence is sky high, so it was a no-brainer to start him."

But Arnold wouldn't confirm Maclaren had done enough to earn a start in their next Group B World Cup qualifier match against Taiwan away on Tuesday.

"We'll see. We've got Taggart.We've got Giannou. And the main reason (Taggart) didn't get involved tonight was around the fact that last Wednesday night he played 120 minutes in the FA Cup in South Korea," Arnold said.

"Then played another 90 minutes on Sunday and didn't arrive until Tuesday morning so he's a little bit tired.

"We've got those options and that's what we've been building over the last 12 months. Taggart is 100 per cent ready to go against Taiwan and so are another eight fresh players."




AUSTRALIA 5 (Jamie Maclaren 6m, 19m, 90m, Harry Souttar 23m, Dinesh Rajbanshi 59m og) NEPAL 0 at GIO Stadium. Crowd: 18,563. Referee: Thoriq Munir Alkatiri