June 23, 2024

In a match where both teams had opportunities, Australia managed to secure the win with a single goal, allowing them to advance to the knockout stage alongside Qatar.

The decisive goal in the match was scored by Jackson Irvine, who found the net in the 60th minute. Irvine’s goal, his second of the tournament, involved a skillful maneuver in the box as he swiveled before poking the ball through the legs of Syria’s goalkeeper Ahmad Madanieh. The victory secured Australia’s place in the knockout stage, and while they have progressed with a group game still remaining, there is recognition that improved performances will be necessary if they aim to win the Asian Cup for the second time under coach Graham Arnold.

Later in the day, India is scheduled to play against Uzbekistan in the same group. Despite being the lower-ranked team, Syria had a promising opportunity to take the lead within the first five minutes of the match. Pablo Sabbag, Syria’s Colombian-born striker, struck the ball off the foot of the Australian post, coming close to scoring.

During the first half, Sabbag suffered a facial injury after a stray forearm from Aiden O’Neill, resulting in the midfielder receiving a yellow card. However, Australia, having previously reached the last 16 of the Qatar World Cup where they faced a 2-1 defeat to eventual champions Argentina, were now dominating the game.

In their 2-0 opening win against India, Arnold had criticized his team for not capitalizing on set-pieces. Ten minutes before halftime against Syria, Australia had another opportunity from a corner. Gethin Jones, the defender, won the ball with a looping header, and Jackson Irvine, who had previously scored in the win against India, narrowly missed reaching the ball on the stretch at the far post.

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Syrias Jalil Elias vies for the ball against Australias Bruno Fornaroli during the Qatar 2023 AFC Asian Cup Group B football match at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on January 18, 2024. — AFP

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