Adelaide duo score in Qantas U23's draw
The Qantas Under 23’s have ended their preparations for their opening Group D match of the Olympic Qualifying Series against Iran, with a 2-2 draw against a Hong Kong XI in Hong Kong overnight. Adelaide duo of Nathan Burns and Bruce Djite scored Australia's goals.
The Qantas Under 23-s have ended their preparations for their opening Group D match of the Olympic Qualifying Series against Iran, with a 2-2 draw against a Hong Kong XI in Hong Kong overnight.
The Australian Olympic team led 2-0 thanks to goals from Adelaide United duo of Nathan Burns (38-) and Bruce Djite (67-), but two late goals sent the match into a penalty shoot-out, which Australia won 5-3.
Coach Rob Baan was thankful to have some of his first choice players available for the match, with Hyundai A-League grand finalists, Burns, Djite (from Adelaide) and Adrian Leijer, Vince Lia, Leigh Broxham and Kristian Sarkies (all from Melbourne Victory) all starting. Baan also gave starts to goalkeeper Tando Velaphi and Newcastle Jets midfielder Troy Hearfield.
However key players Danny Vukovic (pre-caution), Mark Milligan (broken nose), Stuart Musialik and Spase Dilevski did not play. At this stage only Dilevski is a definite non-starter against Iran next week in Tehran.
With so many changes, Australia started slowly with Hong Kong pressing early, but they were guilty of poor finishing.
Burns had Australia-s first chance, but under pressure hit his shot over the bar and it wasn-t until the latter stages of the first half that the young Australian-s started to find their rhythm and assert some authority on the match.
They were rewarded in the 37th minute when Mark Bridge & Djite combined well in the attacking third, with Bridge-s shot spilled by the Hong Kong keeper and Burns was on hand to guide home.
Hong Kong almost leveled it straight after half time, with Velaphi forced to tip over a long range shot, following a loss of possession from the kick-off.
Melbourne Victory duo of Sarkies and Leijer combined to almost send Australia further ahead when the latter headed over the former-s pin-point free kick.
With the game opening up, chances fell to both teams and it was Djite who made it 2-0 for Australia. The Adelaide striker stole the ball off defender on half way, played some connecting passes with Bridge and Vidosic and slammed home his shot from the edge of the area.
Vidosic somehow missed the chance to make it 3-0, two minutes later when the HK keeper spilled another shot, but the ball bounced over the crossbar.
To rub salt into the wounds, Hong Kong pulled a goal back minutes later when Festus Baise rose un-contested to power a header home.
Vidosic and Bridge had further chances to extend Australia-s lead, but with nine minutes left captain Stephen O'Dor attempts a sliding tackle in the box and up-ends HK player. Gumbs made no mistake to set up an exciting finish.
Last few minutes saw both teams with chances to score, but best of the lot fell to Djite in 94min when put through, but he shot over from 18 yards.
In the shoot-out, Velaphi proved the hero with two saves, although one was re-taken after dubious early movement call. With Australia going first in the shoot-out, they converted all five of their kicks to win 5-3 and take 3rd place in the Lunar Cup tournament.
Hong Kong XI 2 (Baise 72', Gumbs 81'pen) Australia 2 (Nathan Burns 38', Bruce Djite 67') Australia won 5-3 on penalty shoot-out - Scorers were Bridge, Topor-Stanley, Sarkies, O'Dor, Vidosic
Australian Line-up: Tando Velaphi, Vince Lia (Ben Griffin 67'), Adrian Leijer (Robert Cornthwaite 63'), Stephen O'Dor (c), Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Troy Hearfield (Dario Vidosic 60'), Leigh Broxham, Kristian Sarkies, Mark Bridge, Nathan Burns, Bruce Djite. Subs not used: Ben Kennedy (gk), Adam D'Apuzzo, Sebastian Ryall
Cautions: Topor-Stanley 25', Broxham 61', O'Dor 81', Sarkies 86'
The team now moves onto Dubai, where they will have their final preparations before heading to Tehran for their opening qualifying match of Group D against the fancied Iranians next Wednesday. Australia drew 0-0 with Iran last year in the Spring Cup held in Vietnam.
Baan confirmed on Tuesday that he is hopeful of gaining the services of several European-based players for the match against Iran, who will join the team in Dubai.
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