The CommBank Pararoos have gone down fighting against Iran, falling 2-0 to the world no3 in the IFCPF Asia Oceania Championships final.
The team threw themselves at their opponents, putting everything on the line to hold the fully professional outfit at bay. David Barber made some phenomenal saves in goal and the tracking back from the likes of Daniel Campbell and Kaylan van Heer was heroic at times.
In the end, Iran were too strong, with goals to Moslem Mehrabian and Abbas Torabi decisive. Nonetheless, it was a performance that the CommBank Pararoos can be incredibly proud of.
It was a brilliant atmosphere at the Home of the Matildas. Iran fans filled two full bays, while Australian fans matched them note for note. The full stand - complemented by fans lining up around the perimeter - and a contest that was, at times, heated, made for a thrilling night of football.
Kai Lammert’s team came into the game with a clear plan against the professional side to sit deep and use the pace of Campbell and Kaylan van Heer on the counter. On set pieces, they threw Connor Bunce forward and aimed crosses at the hattrick hero from Wednesday, or used the height of second-half substitute Luc Launder later in the match.
Australia had a number of corners and free kicks early. Iran were alert to the threat, however, and the men in green and gold were not able to forge anything clear-cut.
David Barber was forced to be alert in goals at the other end. He pulled off a huge save in the 13th minute to keep it scoreless, diving low to his right. Iran kept on coming – Benham Arandi shot agonisingly wide just moments later, and Abbas Torabi hit the crossbar.
The pressure eventually told. After some fantastic build-up play involving Torabi and Shamseddin Shahbazikeivanani, the ball found Moslem Mehrabian at the back post who was able to tap it home to open the scoring in the 19th minute.
Iran was incredibly proficient at playing the ball out from the back. It made life difficult for Van Heer, who was putting in an enormous amount of work as the centre forward, but was unable to win consistent turnovers.
The good work from the defence – especially from Taj Lynch at full-back – meant that it was only 1-0 at half-time. Despite Iran’s dominance, it was still anyone’s game.
The CommBank Pararoos almost levelled things right after the break. A wonderful ball from Van Heer released Daniel Campbell, who just couldn’t quite find his feet in time in the penalty area. He was eventually denied by a fantastic save from Iranian goalkeeper Vahid Navvab.
In an example of the heart that the team was showing, it was only a minute later that Campbell found himself tracking all the way back the other end, chasing his player down and putting in a slide tackle to prevent a golden opportunity.
Iran would double their lead in the 38th minute. The ever-dangerous Abbas Torabi got on the end of a free kick and made no mistake, heading it in from close range.
The game opened up as Australia pushed for a goal. The best opportunity of the half for the CommBank Pararoos was when Ben Roche did well to get in behind, but Van Heer couldn’t quite reach his ball across the goalmouth.
David Barber continued to be involved, and the most-capped Australian male player kept his side in it with some unbelievable saves in the final minutes of the match. However, it was not enough, and Iran finished 2-0 victors.
It was Iran’s night. They came into the tournament favourites and showed why, playing some fantastic football, both in the final and throughout the week.
Perhaps the tournament can be best summarised by a moment after the final whistle. The Iranian fans broke out into an ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ chant, congratulating the CommBank Pararoos on their performance. The men in green and gold will leave with their heads held high.
Iran: 2 (7. Moslem Mehrabian 19', 10. Abbas Torabi 38')
Iran: 6. Benham Arandi, 7. Moslem Mehrabian, 8. Hassan Safari, 9. Shamseddin Shahbazikeivanani (5. Mahdi Shokoohi Movaffagh 47'), 10. Abbas Torabi, 11. Amin Rezaeibezminabadi, 12. Vahid Navvab
Substitutes not used: 1. Babak Safarikourabbasloo, 2. Yaser Rostami, 3. Hadi Khosheghbal, 4. Shahab Rahimikandoleh, 13. Amir Mahdi Rahim Abadi, 14. Amirhossein Ghorbani
Australia: 2. Benjamin Roche (14. Augustine Murphy 47'), 3. Kaylan Van Heer, 4. Alessandro La Verghetta (9. Luc Launder 47'), 5. Daniel Campbell (11. Jeremy Boyce 57'), 7. David Barber, 10. Connor Bunce, 13. Taj Lynch
Substitutes not used: 1. Christian Tsangas, 6. Joshua Beekes, 8. Christian Bitsikas, 12. Benjamin Sutton