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Black Stars, Socceroos share spoils

The Black Stars and the Socceroos this morning played out a one-all draw in an international friendly at Loftus Road, London. The Socceroos are using these matches to prepare for the Asian Cup next year whilst the Black Stars, as hosts of next edition of the Africa Nations Cup in 2008 are using these friendlies to prepare for that tournament.

It was good to see the Socceroos play so well, especially in the first half where they dominated possession, despite not having players like Lucas Neill, Mark Viduka and Tim Cahill. Ghana on the other hand had a full strength squad with the likes of captain Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien and Sulley Al Muntari all present.

The Socceroos scored first through a penalty scored by John Aloisi in the first half and the Black Stars responded with just a quarter of an hour to go to full time when Junior Agogo was quick to respond to a spillage by Mark Schwarzer.

It was a game of two halves with Australia dominating in the first half and making a number of forays into the Ghana half which kept Ankaraspor based goalkeeper Richard Kingston busy despite some pain from what looked like a bad knock to the head early on in the match.

It took some time for the Black Stars to find their feet but once they did they had a fair say in the second half with their star players like Essien and Asamoah Gyan coming more and more into the game.

At the end of the day a draw was a fair result but for me it was good to see players like Patrick Kisnorbo and Luke Wilkshire come in and slot well into the Socceroos squad. Such strength and depth is what you need at the international level because you are not always going to have your first eleven players available.

The next international friendly for Australia will be against Denmark and for Ghana it will be against Argentina.

Ghana didn't look like the Ghana I saw at the World Cup until the second half at least. It could be because they now have a different coach or it could be that it was just a friendly. Australia impressed me though.

Wes, do you think Australia will easily walk away with the Asian Cup next year?

Thanks Victor for the comment, as for your question whether Australia will walk away with the Asian Cup, that's a bit difficult to answer. Firstly, this will be the first time Australia will be participating in this tournament and secondly there are some very good teams going into this tournament like Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China.

The likes of Bahrain and Iraq are quite capable of causing an upset or two.

Australia has a very good chance yes, but its not going to be an easy path to the final and then collect the cup and then come back home. I think Japan and South Korea especially are going to have a big say on who takes the cup home.

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Don't forget that the weather could also have an impact. This cup is being hosted by four countries and the humid conditions may affect Australia. Honestly, I think Australia should be playing friendlies against the likes of China and Iraq to prepare for this cup.