AFC Asian Cup 2019 Day 11 Recap: Jordan, Australia secure Round of 16 berth
Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar
With another draw on Tuesday night, Palestine are also now in contention to make it to the knockout stages of the tournament.
The final round of games in Group B in the AFC Asian Cup produced an absolute thriller and a meek one. Jordan and Australia progressed into the knockout rounds, while Palestine’s fate hangs in the balance. The Socceroos played out a dramatic 3-2 win over Syria at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain, effectively ending their hopes of progressing to the knockouts.
Watch: Australia 3-2 Syria highlights
The Aussies drew first blood when Awer Mabil scored a stunning curler from outside the box in the 41st minute. However, the lead was short-lived, as Omar Khirbin equalized just two minutes later, making sure the teams headed into the break on level terms. With Syria realizing the result of the other game, they came out all guns blazing for more in the second half.
However, their urgency resulted in mistakes and the Socceroos took full advantage of them. Their second goal was marred by controversy, as Chris Ikonomidis’ shot in the 54th minute seemed to have been cleared off by a Syrian defender, but the assistant referee behind the goal stated that it was a goal. That did not kill off Syria’s hopes, as they continued to mount pressure on the opposition, which paid off in the 80th minute, when they were awarded a penalty.
Omar Al Soma made no mistake in slotting past Matt Ryan to get things back on level terms. While Syria put many bodies forward in the quest for a winner, it just wasn’t meant to be their day, as Ryan saved most of their attempts and the others were cleared away. They were dealt with the killer blow in the 93rd minute, when Ikonomidis laid the ball backl to Thomas Rogic, whose powerful shot thundered into the net to give the Socceroos all three points.
While their opponents were blowing the roof off, Jordan and Palestine played out an eventful 0-0 draw at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi. However, there was a good share of goalscoring chances in both halves which could’ve decided the tie. In the 17th minute, Palestine almost got a lucky opener, when Abdullatif Al Bahdari’s clever flick from a corner almost crept into the goal, but Amer Shafi piped it over just in time.
Watch: Palestine 0-0 Jordan highlights
Later in the 37th minute, Jordan’s midfielder Baha Abdel-Rahman found some space in midfield and let rip a vicious shot from 30 yards out, which just brazed over the goal. In the second period, Palestine’s Oday Dabbagh received a brilliant cross from the right in the 51st minute, but couldn’t divert his free header into goal. Identically, Jordan created a similar chance, but Saeed Al-Murjan was marked closely, resulting in his weak header being collected by Rami Hamada.
Bahdari got another chance to score from a corner at the hour mark, but his powerful header was well saved by Shafi. Ahmed Ersen attempted an ambitious shot in the 68th minute, which was nervously parried out by Hamada. Late in the 87th minute, Palestine striker Mahmoud Wahdi tried a spectacular overhead-kick from a brilliant cross, but couldn’t connect with it well, much to the frustration of his teammates.
While Jordan await to see who they face as group winners, Australia will face either Japan or Uzbekistan in the Round of 16. Palestine haven’t confirmed qualification yet, but if things go their way, they have a good chance to go through as one of the four best third-placed teams.
Published: Wed Jan 16, 2019 03:08 PM IST