Australia kick off 2026 qualifying with 7-0 rout of Bangladesh

Jamie Maclaren came off the bench to score a second half hat-trick and Mitchell Duke scored a brace late in the first half

Published : 16 Nov 2023, 03:52 PM
Updated : 16 Nov 2023, 03:52 PM

Australia kicked off Asia's second round of World Cup qualifying with a 7-0 demolition of Bangladesh on Thursday as Graham Arnold celebrated a record 59th 'A' international as Socceroos coach.

Jamie Maclaren came off the bench to score a second half hat-trick and Mitchell Duke scored a brace late in the first half as world number 27 Australia trampled all over the 183rd-ranked south Asians at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

"Overall it was a good performance but I think we still need to be a bit more ruthless in front of goal," Arnold told reporters.

"It could have been double-figures easily, and it should have been."

In front of a crowd of 20,876, the hosts were on the board in the fourth minute courtesy of a Harry Souttar header, the towering defender rising to meet a pinpoint Craig Goodwin free kick from just outside the area.

Brandon Borrello doubled the lead in the 20th minute when he latched onto a neat Connor Metcalfe cross and slipped a shot by goalkeeper Mitul Marma.

Duke then scored twice in four minutes, nodding in a fine header from another Metcalfe assist before firing in a rebound off the post when Borrello sent a rocket thudding into the woodwork.

Maclaren did all the damage in the second half, tapping in a Jordan Bos cross shortly after the restart before pouncing again in the 70th minute when a Massimo Luongo shot pinged off the keeper.

Lewis Miller then set up Maclaren's hat-trick goal in the 84th minute with another well-directed cross.

Australia squandered chances in both halves and Maclaren was denied a late goal by debutant team mate Kusini Yengi who blocked his effort.

Luongo had a poor spot kick saved in the 90th minute after Aiden O’Neill was brought down in a messy challenge.

Socceroos coach Arnold, in his second stint in charge, eclipsed the Australian coaching record held with friend and former Socceroos team mate Frank Farina.

He was presented with a video tribute before the match featuring football luminaries and top coaches from other sports.

"It was quite emotional for me ... It hasn’t sunk in yet," Arnold said of the record.

"For me, my main focus has been on this Bangladesh match."

Australia face Palestine in Kuwait next week, their next step on the road to the 2026 finals in North America.

Thursday's match also marked the 50th anniversary of Australia sealing qualification for the 1974 World Cup, the nation's first appearance at the global showpiece.

Players from the 1974 squad soaked up the win from the crowd.

"It just gave these boys that little bit more inspiration," said Arnold.

Australia are bidding to qualify for the World Cup for the seventh time, and sixth time in succession, having reached the round of 16 at last year's tournament in Qatar.