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
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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.”


Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

Updated 20 January 2019
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Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

HUDDERSFIELD: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was far from satisfied despite a 3-0 win away to Huddersfield Town on Sunday that saw his side cut Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League table to four points.
Liverpool’s compelling 4-3 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday heaped huge pressure back onto reigning champions City but they were rarely troubled by a Town side that look a certain bet for relegation this season.
City’s first goal, a deflected strike for Danilo in the 18th minute, brought up their 100th goal of the season in all competitions before Raheem Sterling scored a diving header from Leroy Sane’s cross in the 54th minute and Sane himself made it 3-0 with a calm finish just two minutes later.
For Guardiola, it should have been an afternoon of enjoyment as his side again proved their willingness to push Liverpool all the way this season.
The City manager, however, has forged a footballing reputation based on sublime performances as well as ruthless goalscoring and, on that basis, his team’s showing in West Yorkshire was not a success as the visitors never really clicked into gear on a day against a Huddersfield side who had parted company with manager David Wagner on Monday.
“During the season you have these kind of games,” Guardiola said. “It is important to win. We have scored many goals in all competitions.
“(But) the way we played, we didn’t deserve more than three goals. We will improve in the future.
“We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it’s difficult.
“Today we are happy we have won but after immediately we have to analyze. During the season you have games when maybe you are not in the top level and it is important to win these games.”
Although City’s fans were happier than their manager following this result, Guardiola could at least take some heart from the fact his side again refused to blink first in the race for the title.
For the second consecutive week, City kicked off knowing Liverpool had already won their weekend fixture and that, consequently, the onus was back on his players to secure three points as well.
Once again, Guardiola’s side managed to do that following up the 3-0 victory over Wolves with this showing and the City manager was more than happy to remind everybody that silverware is not handed out for another four months.
“One team has been better but we’re in January and there’s many more games to play,” he added.
“You don’t win or lose the Premier League in January. We have to focus on what we have to do. If Liverpool win, we have to win. And if Liverpool lose then we also have to win.”
This match was a baptism of fire for Huddersfield’s caretaker boss Mark Hudson and while the Terriers showed impressive fight to inspire some hope this season, this defeat still left them 10 points adrift of safety.
If, as expected, the Borussia Dortmund Under-23 coach Jan Siewert is appointed as Wagner’s permanent replacement, nobody would blame him if he spent his first day in the job preparing for a return to the second-tier Championship next season.
“It’s been a long week,” admitted Hudson.