Key Facts Ahead of Australia vs. UAE in the Quarterfinal of the Asian Cup

The last quarterfinal fixture of the 2019 Asian Cup on Thursday will see Australia, who are currently the defending champions, take on the United Arab Emirates, who is playing host for the Asian Cup this year.

Despite advancing to the quarterfinals, the Socceroos haven’t displayed any skills or abilities to showcase that they are indeed the defending champions at the moment. And facing the UAE – who will definitely receive backup on home soil thanks to their fans – the Socceroos need to make sure that they are ready for business when this match gets underway.

On the other hand, the UAE will need to freely express themselves without being affected by the desire for revenge or the weight of expectations being the host country. As we head into the heavyweight match, let’s take a closer look and the key facts and stats surrounding this important game.

Semi-final Jinx

The host country of two of the last three Asian Cup campaigns hasn’t managed to appear in the semi-finals, with the Socceroos being the exception in 2015 when they managed to win the tournament at the end. However, there’s not one ASEAN country during the 2007 campaign, or Qatar during the 2011 campaign that managed to make it to the semi-finals while playing on home soil.

Australia Attempts to Right a Wrong

For some reason, reigning champions don’t seem to perform all too well during the following edition of the Asian Cup campaign of late, with both Japan in 2015 and Iraq in 2011 stumbling when they reached the quarterfinal stage. The last time this occurred was in 2007 when Japan advanced to the quarterfinal stage after winning the tournament four years before that. With a win over Syria, the Socceroos can finally eliminate that trend as they managed to get a spot in the semi-finals this year.

A Thrilling Match Awaits

The match between Australia – who are considered a persistent attacking team – and the UAE, will undoubtedly be a high-scoring game if you look at the UAE’s propensity to both concede and score freely. The UAE will head into this game having conceded and scored in four of the last five Asian Cup matches, with the exception of their 2-0 victory over India. Even in the game against India, the UAE was extremely fortunate not to concede as the Indian side had far more chances in the match.

Australia Needs To Rectify Their Attack

Even though they are the defending champions at the moment, the Socceroos have fired several blanks in two of their last four matches in the Asian Cup so far. Jamie Maclaren, who is Australia’s first choice when it comes to playing forward, seriously needs to pick up his game, especially due to the fact that Tom Rogic will not be in the squad against the UAE as he is currently suspended. However, the return of Mathew Leckie will be a good sign for the Australian head coach before the match gets underway.

Australia Advance to Knockout Stage in the Asian Cup

Tom Rogic, who managed to score during injury time, earned the Socceroos a sensational 3-2 victory against Syria as well as a place in the AFC Asian Cup knockout stages during their match last week Tuesday at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium.

The Celtic midfielder managed to strike the ball from 25 yards away to finally destroy a Syrian side that was extremely determined to win and secure a crucial point for their team to advance to the next phase.

However, Rogic’s stunning goal only managed to ensure that the Socceroos progress to the next phase in Group B and eliminated Syria from the tournament after they finished at the bottom of Group B following Palestine who managed to score a point after their clash against Jordan.

Syria seemed that they would earn a much-needed draw after coming from behind twice to level with Australia, where Khrbin managed to cancel out Mabil’s goal and Al Soma netting a goal from a penalty after Ikonomidis placed Australia in the lead.

Australia vs Syria

Syria had a far better first half than Australia when Al Soma gave the Socceroos a huge fright after 12 minutes into the game when he managed to head over. Just a few seconds later a shot from Khrbin went across the goal after Mat Ryan couldn’t clear it properly which allowed the ball to end up at the feet of the former Player of the Year in the Asian Cup.

Australia struggled to deal with the Syrians intensity, and towards the end of the first half, Syria was under the impression that they took the lead when the free-kick from Al Ajaan found its way past Mat Ryan. However, the referee ruled it ours on a foul.

The referee’s decision provided a huge boost for Australia where two attempts were blocked by the Syrian goalie. Meanwhile, Mabil’s efforts were also blocked by the Australian goalie.

During the 41st minute, Mabil managed to decrease the pressure by curling a perfect left foot strike which arched into the right post of the goal. However, Australia’s lead only lasted for two minutes as Al Ajaan provided the perfect cross to Khrbin who headed the ball into the net. Although Ryan made an impressive save, it still allowed Khrbin to convert the rebound.

Australia managed to score within the first 9 minutes of the second half thanks to Rogic’s phenomenal cross to Ikonomidis who managed to drive the ball over the line. Although Syria through it wasn’t in, the referee still awarded the goal. With 15 minutes remaining, Syria managed to equalise the game, making the match even more dramatic than before. However, during injury time, Australia provided the perfect lead when Rogic scored a remarkable goal from 25 yards away to seal their victory.

Australia is set to face Uzbekistan this week during the knockout stages of the Asian Cup. Let’s hope they can perform here as well to further advance in this tournament.

Australia Defeats Palestine in Asian Cup

Even though there are tougher challenges that lie ahead, Australia managed to answer a few burning questions regarding their quality in the Asian Cup when they produced a glorious performance against Palestine to defeat them 3-0 in Dubai in front of 12,000 fans.

Australia’s Match Against Palestine

Australia did the bulk of the damage during the first half of the match with a sensational one-two punch. The opening goal was scored during the 18th minute when a beautiful cross from Chris Ikonomidis managed to find Jamie Maclaren among two defenders. Maclaren provided a header to score a goal into the far corner of the post to produce his first goal for Australia.

Two minutes after the first goal, the two youngest players in the match combined to produce the second goal for Australia when Ikonomidis provided a stunning cross to Awer Mabil who managed to place the ball in the net at point-blank range at the back post. The third goal from Australia occurred during the 90th minute when Apostolos Giannou provided another header into the net to further extend the lead, ensuring a well-rounded performance from the Socceroos.

Graham Arnold on His Team’s Performance

Graham Arnold was highly impressed with his attacking players that assisted in propelling his team to a phenomenal victory. He was also extremely happy with the performance from Maclaren who managed to break his goal-scoring duck when it came to international level. “I like Jamie as a football player,” Arnold stated. “His capabilities in the box is always sensational. He merely needs a bit of confidence and belief.”

With two goals within the first half of the match, the Socceroos starting feeling more relaxed as they began kicking the ball around quite comfortably while searching for more goal scoring opportunities. Things definitely turned around for Australia following their devastating defeat at the hands of Jordan in the opening match.

During the second half, Australia was content with their lead and did everything in their power to preserve it. They managed to control the tempo in midfield and were rarely tested defensively. Credit can also be given to Graham Arnold who made a total of three changes to his starting squad following the defeat from Jordan. The manager for Australia was quite pleased with his changes, including Rhyan Grant, Jackson Irvine, and Ikonomidis. All three players managed to impress the Australian manager during their match against Palestine.

Asian Cup Standings for Australia

The result against Palestine now places Australia in the second position in Group B where they still need to take on Syria in their final group stage match. With Jordan currently on 6 points in Group B, Australia is unable to take the top spot. Even if Australia manages to lose against Syria, they still have a chance to advance to the Round of 16.

A second position finish will mean that Australia will play against Oman, who the Socceroos beat 5-0 in a warm-up match for the Asian Cup tournament.

The Best Australian Football Players of All Time

The first official soccer match that was played in Australia occurred in 1880. Although the country was introduced to the sport relatively early, they didn’t take to soccer like other countries as Rugby League, Rugby Union, Cricket, and Aussie Rules enjoyed more popularity in the last century.

However, Australia does have a vibrant soccer scene as their A-League is improving year on year. The Socceroos managed to qualify for their first World Cup in 1974 and managed to qualify again in 2006 for a second time. This managed to produce quite a few extraordinary players from the land down under. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best Australian football players of all time.

Mark Schwarzer

The strongest position for Australia over the years has been between the sticks thanks to Mark Schwarzer as their goalkeeper. At age 44, he was still playing until 2016 within the Premier League and is the most capped player for Australia of all time with a total of 109 international appearances. He played for clubs like Leicester, Chelsea, Fulham, and Middlesbrough.

Mark Bosnich

Mark Bosnich was another spectacular goalkeeper for Australia who spent most of his football career within the Premier League. He is best known for spending 7 years with Aston Villa where he managed to win the League Cup on two occasions. He also played for Chelsea and Manchester United during his career.

Luke Wilkshire

Luke was considered one of the best players during his prime, playing for clubs like Feyenoord, Dynamo Moscow, FC Twente, Bristol City, and Middlesbrough. With a total of 80 caps under his belt, Luke is considered the 8th most capped player from Australia of all time.

Joe Marston

Joe Marston was the first Australian to participate in a FA Cup final. While most Australian soccer players were still playing at an amateur level, Joe endeared himself to fans at Preston North End where he turned down a whopping £80,000 offer from the Gunners. Capable of playing both centre-back and right-back, Joe played a total of 185 league matches and won 37 caps for his country.

Lucas Neill

Although he wasn’t considered a world beater, he was reliable and a warrior for the Australian soccer scene. Born in Sydney, he started his football career with Millwall and continued to play for Galatasaray, Everton, West Ham United, Blackburn Rovers, and various other clubs around the world. Neill also managed to win a League Cup while playing for Blackburn in 2002 and accumulated a total of 96 caps for his country during his career.

Paul Okon

Paul Okon was a phenomenal football player who managed to win the Belgian Golden Shoe award during his career. Due to his numerous moves as a footballer, he damaged his legacy and is renowned as a journeyman more than anything else. Okon managed to play both midfield and defence and spent most of his career in Belgium where he played for Club Brugge.

Australia Search for Asian Consolation After Failure in Russia

A brand-new Australia will look for consolation during the Asian Cup following their devastating group round exit at the Russian World Cup earlier this year. Under Bert van Marwijk, their former Dutch coach, the Socceroos made an exit out of Russia without any wins and only managed to score two goals due to penalties which underlines the squads’ struggles to score a goal against other quality defences.

Socceroos Attacking Formation

Graham Arnold, the new head coach of the Socceroos in his second stint, has managed to shake things up when it comes to the attacking formation, going with three interchangeable strikers at the front as opposed to using the traditional centre forward. This new move has managed to pay dividends while playing against lighter sides, especially when you look at the 4-0 victory against Kuwait who is currently ranked 158th in the world and the 3-0 loss against Lebanon who is currently ranked 81st in the world when they played friendlies against these two teams.

However, against South Korea, the current heavyweights in Asia, the new formation was far less effective and the Socceroos required a last minute equalizer from Massimo Luongo to take a 1-1 draw during their match in Brisbane even though Australia was dominant during the game. Placing the reality check aside, Arnold believes his team can win every match in the UAE. The determination portrayed by Arnold might also be fueled by the need to eliminate the stain that is currently over the Socceroos when they had a poor performance during their debut in 2007 when Arnold coached the Socceroos to a quarter-final exit when the tournament was co-hosted by Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Graham Arnold’s Vital Changes to the Team
Having surpassed Guus Hiddink following Australia’s performance during the 2006 World Cup where they managed to reach the final 16, Arnold inherited a team that was predominately equipped with European-based players which suffered heavily under the Southeast Asian heat before they were eliminated by Japan due to penalties.

Arnold publicly criticized his senior football players throughout the tournament and 6 months later was surprisingly replaced by Pim Verbeek where he was demoted to assistant coach. When you compare the players that were used during 2007, Arnold will need to rely on a modest roster during his time in the UAE.

The Socceroos lost a great deal of experience following the international retirements of Mile Jedinak as the long-serving skipper and Tim Cahill as the leading goal-scorer. There’s only 8 out of 23 players in the current squad that share in the triumph of 2015. However, the current squad still has loads of quality, featuring 6 who managed to play during the South Korean final which includes Mathew Leckie, Luongo, and Matt Ryan.

The defence of Australia is considered one of the strongest in the Asian Cup tournament and Arnold doesn’t see why he should make any changes to improve on it.

Socceroos Ready for Asian Cup Success

Rhyan Grant, the Socceroos defender, insists that his side will make their way to UAE for the Asian Cup next month and is certain that they possess both the game plan and the players to claim continental titles back-to-back.

Grant, while speaking to the media commented that “You will always be confident once you become defending champions,” Rhyan Grant stated to reporters earlier this week. Just the involvement in the most recent camp will tell you that the guys are extremely upbeat. Everyone is set to go and perform well during the Asian Cup tournament. There is absolutely no doubt that we can win this. There’s simply no other reason why we are going.”

Socceroos Injury Report

The planning by Graham Arnold, the Socceroos’ head coach, has been severely clouded due to injury concerns when it comes to his creative key players where Daniel Arzani has been ruled out after suffering a severe knee injury that ended his season with Celtic in Europe. Midfielders Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy has been included in the 23-man team, even though Mooy was ruled out for at least 6 to 8 weeks following a Premier League game against Arsenal recently.

The injury will see him miss most of the early stages of the tournament, but Arnold decided to het his own medical expert who will report back to him later this week after doing an assessment on the fitness of Mooy prior to the start of the tournament. This is how important Mooy is to the team and they will have until 5 January 2019 to make the necessary changes to their overall squad.

Even though there are several injuries in the team, Arnold believes that there is more than enough talent in the squad to cover any unexpected injuries going forward. Arnold, while speaking on thei njuries stated,

“It’s never a good thing to see someone go down due to an injury,” Arnold stated. “This is especially true when it comes to Daniel Arzani who suffered a serious injury just when he started playing. Everyone wants Rogic and Mooy to be there and even if they are simply bystanders, there’s no denying that they want to see the best players from Australia on the field. However, while saying that, the team does offer incredible depth. Should there be a problem with any of the key players, there are enough reverse to completely cover their positions. Take a trip back to the previous Asian Cup, Luongo had a phenomenal tournament. He’s always been a fantastic player but most fans didn’t know him very well. You can never tell if that’s going to be the case with someone new this time round.”

The Graham Arnold Era

After Bert van Marwijk made his short-term appointment during the World Cup, a new manager was brought to the team to take over the Socceroos by the name of Graham Arnold. Since he started with the team, he has made several improvements which is why everyone is excited to see how the Socceroos will perform in the upcoming Asian Cup. This can definitely be a new era for the national squad thanks to a brand-new head coach.

FFA Confirm Two Brand-New Clubs for the A-League in 2019

The FFA (Football Federation Australia) has recently confirmed that the Macarthur South West Sydney and the Western Melbourne Group will join an expanded A-League in 2019 and 2021. The Western Melbourne Group is going to join the A-League during the 2019/20 season, while the MacArthur South West Sydney will enter the campaign after the 2020/21 season.

Football Federation Australia

To successfully expand the tournament in this way, the FFA Board took the FFA Senior Executive’s recommendations. Two directors, including Joseph Carrozzi and Remo Nogarotto, excused themselves from decision-making and deliberations on the matter. Chis Nikou, the FFA Chairman, stated that it’s currently a very exciting time for Australian football and that the level of interest from prospective bidders highlighted the enormous potential in joining the A-League.

Nikou added that,

“We’ve witnessed remarkable interest from bids to form part of the A-League and we’re ecstatic about the two new clubs from Melbourne and Sydney and a League that expands will manage to connect brand-new communities in the two largest markets, creating new rivals, more derbies, bigger TV audiences, and most importantly, more opportunities for footballers in Australia to get the opportunity for a chance to play at the highest level for their country. One of the most significant aspects in our decision was undoubtedly the long-term opportunity for growth when it comes to every club in every new geography. Melbourne and South West Sydney will represent some of the largest growth in Australia,” he stated. Nikou believes it’s the first and most important step in a brand-new phase for football in Australia. Our mission to expand on the A-League doesn’t stop here either. This is only the beginning of an incredible adventure that will see our tournament grow far beyond only 12 trams in the near future.”

Continuing with his statement, Nikou added,

“The process of expansion has been extensive and long with loads of die-hard football fans giving every single effort into the bid proposal. Furthermore, we look forward to discuss things further with the bidders that were unsuccessful to further expand down the line. We also acknowledge on this special occasion that we haven’t been granted a license to the region of Canberra. However, we do continue to see Canberra as an appealing possibility for future expansion.””

David Gallop M, the FFA Chief Executive Officer, stated that the decision to give licenses for both the 2019/20 and the 2020/21 season will mean that the benefits of the expansion will be felt immediately and allow more than enough time to completely establish operations. The project for expansion commenced almost 12 months ago where the FFA Board accepted the last recommendation wholeheartedly.

One of the best things about the Western Melbourne Group is the incredible proposal to construct the first football-specific and football-owned stadium in Australia. Gallop stated that the region in the South West Macarthur will be represented by over 50 grassroots as well as clubs in the National Premier League with a diverse and large population base that will undoubtably continue to expand.

Can the Australian Matilda’s Be the First National Soccer Champs

The women’s football team in Australia has long since captured the hearts and minds of its legion of soccer fans. However, for Coach Alen Stajcic, who went to France this weekend for next year’s World Cup draw, it’s his player’s minds with which he is concerned about the most. “In terms of preparation, this is the best team, both tactically and technically,” Stajcic stated. “However, I also believe that the team is mentally prepared and that’s the most significant factor for me. The biggest hurdle has always been mentality when it comes to Australian teams, and this has certainly been overcome this time around. Everyone believes that this women’s football team can win.”

Australia, becoming world champions in a sport fighting for space in a flooded domestic market. It might have seemed an imaginary notion previously, but not anymore. The Matildas are currently ranked 6th in the world and is patiently waiting to be seeded once the groups are decided.

The Team to Beat is the USA

There are several nations who will make their way to France, each with their own dreams and ambitions to dominate the world on a global scale. Germany, the European heavyweights, along with France as the host nation, are considered 2 of the 3 favorites. However, the United States will undoubtedly be the biggest obstacle for any team in the World Cup. They have the winning mentality and the knowledge of winning as they’ve already won a World Cup before.

Alanna Kennedy, the midfielder for the Matilda’s, believes any country that is currently on the Top 10 in the world will pose a challenge for America. “One cannot deny that it will be extremely difficult. We have loads of small steps to take along the way to eventually reach it. However, we are highly determined that we will reach the end victorious,” Kennedy stated.
Taking the Top Sport in the World Cup

Australia has certainly earned their spot in the conversation. Their first ever victory against the United States took place in 2017 on their own soil which made the world notice them instantly. However, Stajcic believes it happened much sooner during the 2016 Olympic Games against Japan. “The victory over Japan was a significant turning point for Australia when it comes to optimism and belief in how good we actually can be.”

It created a series of jaw-dropping performances. The win over the United States formed part of a Nations Tournament where Brazil and Japan were also outplayed. The team’s momentum furthered during two friendlies against Newcastle and Penrith where they managed to win both. The results have unfortunately been less extraordinary during 2018, but the performances have remained exactly the same, if not better. Just to give you an idea of how good the Matilda’s actually are, they were the only team from two that managed to draw against the United States, a team that claimed 15 victories from 17 matches.

How to Become a Professional Soccer Player in Australia

Have you ever dreamed about becoming a world-class soccer player at the FIFA World Cup while playing for the Socceroo’s? Well, the path to becoming a professional football star is definitely not easy, but it can be achieved. You merely need financial support, sacrifice, dedication, and loads of commitment. Below, we will address what you’ll need to become a professional soccer player in Australia.

Have a Passion and Desire for the Game

Potential soccer players will need a passion for the game and will require a good reason to practice the sport as much as humanly possible. A passion and a desire for the game are both key motivational factors that will assist you in going the extra mile to becoming a professional soccer player in Australia. From an early age, you’ll need to train every single day to improve your skills and attend loads of training sessions to further enhance your abilities.

Get Fit and Eat Healthy

Soccer is played over 90 minutes and an average soccer player will cover anywhere between 9 and 13 kilometres in a single game. Therefore, you’ll need stamina, both mentally and physically. So, aspiring young soccer players will continuously need to improve their overall fitness to take their game to the next level. This can be achieved by participating in weight sessions at a local gym, interval training, and cross country running.

Apart from getting fit and increasing your stamina, you will also need to follow a strict diet. In fact, most football stars consider dieting to be far more important than training as it helps you to stay mentally and physically fit. Therefore, we recommend eating loads of fresh fruit and fish and ensure you drink loads of water with every meal.

Be Confident

How on earth do you get more confident? Well, positive thinking and practicing is a great place to start. You should know by now that practice makes perfect, but what you might not know is that practice also creates confidence. With better preparation and more practice, you will start gaining more confidence in both your body language and football abilities. Once your confidence is boosted, it will eventually show during your matches which will assist you in taking a step closer to being spotted as a potential football star.

Perfect Your Skills

As a player, you will need to stay hungry and never get satisfied. You will constantly be tested on a wide range of skills, including tackling, heading, crossing, shooting, passing, and touching the ball, so the more you perfect your skills, the greater your chances will be to become a professional player. To successfully achieve this, you will need to attend as much training sessions as possible. Look for the best training camps in your area and ensure you learn from the best. You will also need to include as many gym sessions as possible and talk to your coach about how you can improve your game by eliminating your weaknesses.

The Best Soccer Academies Situated in Sydney

There’s no doubt that Sydney has a marvellous selection for potential football stars to attend world-class soccer academies at both junior and youth levels. Most of the current professionals in Australia that are playing in the A-League have spent a considerable amount of time at one of Sydney’s soccer academies, and therefore we decided to list them below to help you fine-tune your skills to become a soccer legend.

Milan Soccer School – Olympic Park

The Milan Academy is owned by Andrea Icardi. He began with Milan at the mere age of 10 and spent a total of 13 years playing for the phenomenal club. He currently utilises his strong knowledge of the sport to develop the prospects of players of Australia further. The soccer academy offers a fantastic combination of professional training along with didactic, disciplined drills to hone the skillset of each athlete. From February to December, the advanced academy is available, allowing players to deepen their understanding of the tactics and techniques used in European football. There are loads of other programs available at the academy as well, including goalkeeping, Milan Pro, Pre Milan Pro, Junior Academy, Basic Skills, Mini Milan, and more.

F.A.S.T Football Academy

The Fast Academy is headed by Ivan and Milan Bosnar, two brothers who played professional soccer for Sydney United. Several valuable programs are offered at FAST Football Academy, including the development academy and one-on-one training. The unique one-on-one training is only available on request and will set you back $50, whereas the Development Academy takes place every Monday and will last for about 75 minutes. The primary focuses at FAST include basic skills and game situations and position specific training.

Red Devil’s Football Academy

Ben Burrows manages the Red Devils Football Academy, who previously played for both the Wollongong Wolves and West Ham United. Ben has also managed to produce some spectacular players at the club, including Danny Murphy, David Platt, Robbie Savage, and Neil Lennon to mention but a few. Small group training consisting of two-four athletes along with one-on-one training is featured at the academy. Each Friday, you can also enjoy an incredible skills training session from 18:00 – 19:30.

Football Star Academy

This renowned football academy provides a wide range of vital programs for senior, junior, and youth athletes. Goalkeeper, holiday camps, elite squad, one-on-one, and weekly clinics are also available at the academy. The Centre of Excellence is one of the best programs available at the academy, specifically designed for athletes who are dedicated to the sport. The program stretches over 12 months and only accepts a total of 36 players every year.

Sydney Boys Football Academy

Max Andreotti manages the Sydney Boys Football Academy, who previously played as a pro in Italy and has managed to coach teams in multiple age groups. He is currently scouting Oceania/Australia for potential youth players to play in the Serie A League in Italy. The football academy consists of 5 different levels, and they are offered all year round.