The Socceroos drew 1-1 with Syria overnight, in the first leg of their FIFA World Cup qualifier (which, should they win, will put them through to another two-leg playoff against a Central or North American team).
But there were some serious sour grapes from some of the Socceroos, even though the match result reflected the periods of dominance both teams enjoyed -- us in the first half, Syria late in the second.
Among the loudest to complain was Germany-based striker Robbie Kruse, who said of a dubious penalty which the Syrians were awarded:
"It's never a pen, but you come to expect that in this confederation."
The penalty did indeed look marginal at best.
But to say "you come to expect that in this confederation" could be interpreted as a swipe at the standard of either Asian Confederation refereeing, or the (perceived low) standard of football in the regional conference, or both.
Kruse took a second dig at Iranian referee Alireza Faghani who has officiated Socceroos games before, saying:
"You expect that from this referee, we've had him before. I think he wanted to give it as soon as he made contact."
For the record, he also scored a brilliant goal with a lovely deft touch.
Australia leads with Robbie Kruse goal at the 40' | Syria 0-1 Australia pic.twitter.com/PTHsUEoXTC— Dinie Syahmi (@DinieSyahmii) 5 de outubro de 2017
Much clumsier were his words after the game and there's no small irony in an Australian player questioning the competence of the refereeing in the Asian Confederation.
Australia lobbied for years to enter the confederation, and to qualify through it for the FIFA World Cup. Previously, we qualified through Oceania, where for years we thrashed Pacific island nations and only had genuine competition against New Zealand, who we almost always beat before facing tougher opposition from elsewhere on the globe in a last stage qualifier.
That's how we came to play, and eventually beat, Uruguay in that famous 2005 John Aloisi moment which sent football fans into raptures and took Australia to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where we preformed well.
After that 2006 Cup the Socceroos were admitted to Asia. The move paid immediate dividends. We qualified directly for the World Cup in 2010 and 2014 via one of the automatic four spots afforded the continent. We are also the reigning Asian Cup champions.
This year is the first time the Socceroos have not qualified directly for the FIFA World Cup since admission to Asia. Having missed one of the automatic four spots after failing to score heavily enough against Thailand, we are forced to go the long way round.
Despite this year's hiccup, our success in recent years, and the rise in mainstream interest in Australian football, owe virtually everything to our participation in the Asian confederation.
While some fans are arguing Kruse made some valid points, others say it's hypocritical to criticise Asia when things don't go our way.