Australia’s opening clash to the Asian Cup was a disaster of epic proportions, but thanks to a timely loss of an opponent their path is clearer. Both teams need a win tonight, but I think Australia are going to win this one. Should be another great game though, as Palestine are ver hard to break down.
Still dealing with key injuries, the Socceroos head into tonight’s clash with arguably an easier run in the tournament.
They’ll need to defeat Palestine if they’re to keep their Asian Cup hopes alive and Graham Arnold has swung the axe.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is predicting a strong response from his players against Palestine after their disappointing Asian Cup opening performance.
Defending champions Australia will head into Friday’s match in Dubai bottom of Group B after their 1-0 loss to Jordan in Al Ain last Sunday.
Arnold has declared attacking midfielder Tom Rogic will start against the Palestinians despite breaking a bone in his left hand against Jordan. The news is not so good on fullback Josh Risdon (groin) and striker Andrew Nabbout (groin).
“Risdon out, Nabbout is probably out, Rogic in,” Arnold said when asked about the injured trio.
“He’s got a broken hand, you know that. But we expect him to play. He’s got two great legs.” Risdon is almost certain to be replaced by Rhyan Grant on the right side of defence but otherwise Arnold isn’t expected to make many changes to the team which fell to world No.109 Jordan.
Out of nothing, Australia are ahead. Slow, patient possession near halfway looks like it’s going nowhere until the ball finds Rogic on the right. The Celtic star shows great feet to beat his man, cut inside and then fire over a vicious inswinging cross with his left foot that Jamie Maclaren flicks on unerringly into the bottom corner. Graham Arnold breathes a Big. Sigh. Of. Relief.
Hello and welcome to matchday seven of Asian Cup 2019, and it’s a vital one for Australia as they take on Palestine in Dubai. Kick-off at the Rashid Stadium is 10pm AEDT (3pm local time).
After losing their opening match to Jordan, and performing poorly in the process, the pressure is on Graham Arnold and his Socceroos. Allowances can be made for a host of injuries but there are question marks over selection, individual form and collective strategy that need to be answered tonight.
“Straight away the focus has turned to how we’re going to right those wrongs and rectify where we went wrong and improve the areas we could have done better,” Mat Ryan said during the week. “I have no doubt we are going to come back in this next game and make the country proud again with our performance and the result.”
Jordan’s victory over Syria means top spot in Group B is all but assured. Tonight’s match is therefore pivotal for Australia to remain in control of the second automatic qualification spot into the knockout phase.
Unlike Australia’s opening match, tonight’s contest is an 18,000 sell out. Plenty of those tickets have gone to Palestine supporters buoyed by their team’s opening round draw with Syria and sensing an upset after Jordan provided a template for how to neutralise and then punish the defending champions.