Australia look for first points
Dubai: Australia will be keen to make amends for their shocking loss against Jordan as they take on unfancied Palestine in their second match of Group B of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup at Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club’s Rashid Stadium on Friday.
Anas Bani Yaseen’s header first-half header was the only goal of the game as Jordan stunned defending champions Australia to kick off the 2019 AFC Asian Cup UAE with a shock 1-0 victory over the Socceroos in their Group B opener at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain last Sunday.
The defending champions struggled in front of goal as they failed to produce an equaliser against Vital Borkelmans’ Jordan and now they know they have very little margin for error in their remaining two group matches starting with Friday’s encounter against the Lions of Canaan.
“There will no second measures against Palestine. We respect all teams, but we will be going all out to take the three points from this one first,” Australia coach Graham Arnold said at the pre-match conference.
Recent history is a concern for Australia heading into the match. The Socceroos are winless in their past 13 matches played outside of their home country and they have scored just 12 goals in that run.
“We want a totally different reaction from my players at this game. This will be a totally different Australia on the pitch tomorrow. We have the experience of playing against Kuwait, Lebanon and Oman to prepare for this tournament. It is necessary to forget the last tournament as it was four years back,” Arnold added.
With a current Fifa ranking of 99, Palestine are very much seen as the underdogs in this encounter. But the Lions of Canaan showed what they are made of en route to a fighting goalless draw against neighbours Syria in Sharjah earlier this week.
Their Algerian coach Noureddine Ould Ali is not afraid of experimenting as he goes all out to get the necessary points against better organised opponents.
“We got our first point ever in our last game against Syria and this has put us high on confidence as it is such a fantastic and historic result for us after we had only 10 players on the pitch. We will target another point, if not an outright win against Australia too. Australia is a good side and we will enter with the will to win. They have their strong and weak points and we will see how we can exploit their weaknesses,” Ali said at the pre-match conference.
“Our dream is to win and make our fans happy. We will be totally focused on achieving this target,” he added.
The Socceroos have been monitoring both Tom Rogic and Andrew Nabbout. Rogic has a broken bone in his hand but took part in a full training session and is expected to be fit for the match, while Nabbout is struggling with a groin strain that kept him out of Australia’s opener. “Against Jordan we controlled 70 per cent and we didn’t score. But this game we want to score first and then open them up and get more goals,” Arnold said.