The head coach for the Australian Under-23 national team, Graham Arnold, stated that his team could take loads of positives away from the friendly match against Petaling Jaya City FC. Jaya City is considered the top flight team in Malaysia, on Thursday evening, even though they suffered a 2-0 defeat.
Australia U-23 vs Petaling Jaya City FC
In overwhelming conditions in Shah Alam, a city close to Kuala Lumpur which is the capital of Malaysia, the youngsters of Australia were defeated on the scoreboard. However, this was not due to their balance of play while they contested in their first match aboard.
Graham Arnold stated that most of his players managed to lose between 4 and 5 kilograms during the match, giving you a clear picture of how intense the humid conditions in southeast Asia is. The Australian squad will now head to the Championship qualifiers for the 2020 AFC U-23 in Cambodia next week after suffering a 2-0 loss against the top-flight team in Malaysia.
“The match on Thursday against a senior top-flight team from Malaysia, as well as our week together as a team in Malaysia, was incredibly invaluable, especially for the qualifiers in Cambodia next week,” explained Arnold.
“For most of the players in the team. This week represented the first time that all of them have played together in southeast Asia. Therefore, adapting to the difficult conditions that they played in was paramount.
“We triumphed in several key areas during the match on Thursday and managed to hit the woodwork on multiple occasions. Giving us loads of positives to take from the defeat at the hands of Petaling Jaya City FC. Especially when you factor in the brief preparation that each player had over the last couple of weeks,” Graham stated.
Australia’s Next Fixture
Australia will participate in another friendly against the Malaysian U23 national team on Sunday evening before they shift to Phnom Penh the week after that. This is where three matches in 5 days patiently await the team.
In Phnom Penh, the Australian squad will play against Cambodia on 22 March 2019m Chinese Taipei on 24 March 2019, and the Korea Republic on 26 March 2019. Australia will be able to qualify for the AFC U-23 Championship in 2020 if they can finish first in Cambodia in Group H, or emerge as one of the 4 second-best squads during qualifying.
The second-placed 5th best team from the 11 AFC groups will also be able to qualify if Thailand. They managed to qualify automatically as the hosts of the tournament, finish as either runners-up or winners in Group K.
“We are regarded as one of the unseeded squads for this qualifying phase,” stated Arnold. “My Australian team is desperate to qualify for the AFC U-23 Championship in 202. Which will take place in Thailand and they are extremely determined to become the first team to qualify for the prestigious Olympic Games which hasn’t occurred since 2008. So, let’s hope they can achieve this goal this time around.”