Palestine ready to follow Jordan’s lead and shock the Socceroos

Palestine are out to hit the heights against Australia on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 10 January 2019

Palestine ready to follow Jordan’s lead and shock the Socceroos

  • Noureddine Ould Ali confident his side can exploit Australia's weaknesses in Dubai.
  • Aussies know they cannot afford another slip-up after Jordan defeat.

LONDON: Noureddine Ould Ali claimed that Palestine are ready to end Australia’s tournament.
The Socceroos were shocked by Jordan in their first match on Sunday and know they need to win in Dubai on Friday. Graham Arnold’s men arrived in UAE lacking several key men due to either retirement or injury, but it would be a huge shock if they were to exit at this early stage.
The defending champions are still the team to beat in Group B and Palestine are only too aware of the task they face.
But Ali revealed he and his team have watched the Australia-Jordan match and have backed themselves to match their Arab rivals and kick the Aussies out of the tournament.
“You need to know that we are in 2019, and every team is able to give a good performance,” Ali said.
“In regard to Jordan against Australia we studied the game between them and (Australia’s) strengths, but we also noticed points of weakness and we are also going to exploit such weaknesses.”
Palestine drew their first match 0-0 against the much-fancied Syrians — their first ever point in the competition — and Ali is hoping his side can take that form into the Australia match.
“In the last game we were very defensive because the conditions of the match did not allow us to change our style,” said the Algerian boss.
“But we were very pleased with our performance and the point we got in the first game, and that was the most important thing.”
Australia’s loss to Jordan was one of the major talking points of the competition’s opening week and Arnold knows his side cannot afford another slip-up against Palestine.
“(when we won) four years ago is a long time, and it’s a completely different team to what we had four years ago,” the Australia coach, who also led the Australians at the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, said.
“Four years ago it was played in Australia on home soil, this time its here in the UAE, with a totally different team.
“It’s a great memory for Australian football, of course, but now it’s all about the moment. We handed the trophy back the day before the tournament started before the UAE vs Bahrain match, and the trophy is there to be won again.”
Arnold has told his players a repeat performance of their Jordan reverse will not be acceptable.
“We expect a great reaction from the players,” he said.
“The boys are going into this match with a lot of confidence, a lot of belief and expectation to win.
“Something that Australians also have is a great attitude to fight. Palestine will be aggressive and its important that we win the battle,” he said.
“You don’t want to look back, but against Jordan we controlled 76 percent of possession, we had some good chances and on another day we would have scored three or four goals.”

Late winner dumps Syria out of Asian Cup following survival of the fittest battle against Socceroos

Updated 15 January 2019

Late winner dumps Syria out of Asian Cup following survival of the fittest battle against Socceroos

  • Syria boss left to rue side's lack of stamina as Aussie hit last-minute winner.
  • Result dumped Syria out of the tournament.

AL-AIN: Syria were left to lament that they came off second best in a survival of the fittest battle against the Socceroos.  

That was the opinion of the side’s stand-in coach Fajr Ibrahim who felt that there was not much to separate the two sides in terms of ability, but claimed the Aussies were able to win 3-2 due to their superior fitness levels. 

The defeat dumped Syria out of the Asian Cup at the first hurdle, and Ibrahim, who took charge foolowing Bernd Stange's shock  sacking following their defeat by Jordan, was left to rue his players’ lack of stamina compared to their Australian opponents. 

"Fitness was the critical factor," Ibrahim said.

"There wasn't a big difference apart from the fitness of the Australian team. They were superior.”

Considering the league that the majority of the Socceroos play in compared to the Syrians, the coach was probably right when talkng about the fitness levels of the two sides. In which case he had every right to be proud of his players. They only fell to defeat by virtue of a Tom Rogic's injury-time thunderbolt.

The result meant the Socceroos finished second in Group B behind Jordan, whose simultaneous 0-0 draw with Palestine gave the Palestinians hope of qualifying as one of the best third-placed teams.

Syria, vocally backed by thousands of their fans in Ai-Ain, twice fought back from a goal behind before Rogic slammed home the winner in the third minute of injury time.

Injury-hit Australia, with only six outfield players on the bench, needed just a draw to go through and they got there — but there were twists along the way.

“It was a helter-skelter game at times,” Australia coach Graham Arnold said.

“On another night we could've scored more goals but it was a great learning process for our young players. It was a good performance just in terms of the grit and determination.”

Syria looked an early threat before Australia started to get a grip on the game and Hibernian striker Jamie Maclaren flashed a header just wide.

There was drama on the half-hour when a Syrian free-kick bounced through a packed penalty area and into the net, but the goal was ruled out for a foul on Mark Milligan.

But Australia were getting close and Awer Mabil, after seeing one raking shot blocked, unleashed a fabulous effort which curled into the top corner four minutes before half-time.

However, the lead lasted just two minutes as Mouaiad Alajaan's cross picked out birthday boy Omar Khrbin, turning 25 on Tuesday, who saw his header saved by Brighton's Mathew Ryan but then gobbled up the rebound.

On 54 minutes, there was controversy when Chris Ikonomidis's shot was hooked away by Omar Al Midani — but the ball was judged to have crossed the line by the additional assistant referee, who was surrounded by Syrian players.

The incident silenced the massed ranks of Syrian fans but there was uproar around the stadium shortly afterwards when their team vehemently claimed a penalty for a Milligan handball.

Australia looked firmly in control and they could have had a third goal when substitute Apostolos Giannou saw a low shot cannon off the base of the upright.

But Mexican referee Cesar Ramos threw Syria a lifeline when he gave them a penalty after Omar Al Soma went down in the box — and the striker stroked them level once more with 10 minutes to go.

It looked like Syria would escape with a vital point before Celtic's Rogic, playing the tournament with a broken hand, belted Australia's third from distance.