Australia and Syria will face off in the group stage for a second successive year on Thursday. After defeating India 2-0 on the opening day of play, the Socceroos are now top of Group B with three points. The Syrians managed to hold onto a 0-0 tie with Uzbekistan.
Preview (Syria vs. Australia)
Syria managed to escape defeat in their first Asian Cup group encounter for the third time this century. They won their opening game of the competition back-to-back. Renowned tactician Hector Cuper’s team was incredibly well-organized against Uzbekistan. They limited them to only two shots on goal while controlling 34% of the possession. Even though they have won all three of their games this year, this side has only triumphed in one Asian Cup match in the twenty-first century—they surprised Saudi Arabia 2-1 in their opening game in 2011. Syria is predicted to compete this time around despite never having advanced past the tournament’s group round.
The Syrians have finished with at least a point in each of their Asian Cup campaigns. When they concede early in a match, they have lost all of their games. Syria has given them everything they can handle even though they are still searching for that elusive first victory over the Socceroos. They lost 3-2 in the previous Asian Cup after giving up a winner in the 90th minute, lost 2-1 in 2017 after blowing a 1-0 lead, and managed to draw 1-1 in their first-ever meeting that same year. Graham Arnold, the Australian manager, was not satisfied with his team’s performance despite the first result going their way. The Socceroos appeared uncoordinated and overly enthusiastic during the first 45 minutes of the match.
Arnold has promised that his team would show even more development in this match. The Australians are already enjoying a winning streak of five games in all competitions. Australia has won its last three Asian Cup group matches, scoring several goals in each victory. When they have given up the first goal in this tournament, they have lost their last three games.
The only Syrian player on the Asian Cup roster who hasn’t played for his country is Maksim Sarraf. On matchday one of the competition, Pablo Sabbag, Mahmoud Al Aswad, Haim Ousou, and Jalil Elias were all named in the starting lineup for the first time. Fahd Youssef needs nine appearances to achieve 50. Amro Jenyat needs five, and Ammar Ramadan needs one more cap to reach double digits. In their first game, Ahmad Madania started in place of captain Ibrahim Alma. He stopped two shots to preserve the clean sheet, and Omar Khribin now has 21 goals for the national team, one less than Zyad Chaabo for fifth place all-time.
This past weekend marked the second time in their last three international matches that Martin Boyle, who missed the 2019 Asian Cup for the Socceroos due to a knee injury, started. Boyle played for just more than an hour before Samuel Silvera took his place. In their debut match, John Iredale and Patrick Yazbek did not start on the bench since they are still vying for their first caps with Australia; Riley McGree made his 20th appearance, Bruno Farnaroli earned his third cap, and Aziz Behich earned his 65th.
This past weekend, Jackson Irvine scored his first goal in an Asian Cup match, Jordan Bos scored his first goal with the Socceroos 30 seconds after replacing Craig Goodwin, and Mathew Ryan recorded his 31st clean sheet for his country and moved up to fifth place in all-time appearances with 87 games played.
Syria 0-1 Australia
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