‘The crowd was unreal’: Grant praises support as the Socceroos shift focus to knockout stage
Rhyan Grant says the support of Socceroos fans in the UAE and back home in Australia is helping to drive the team forward in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™.
The Socceroos secured a 3-2 win in a thrilling contest against Syria on Wednesday morning (AEDT) to move into the knockout rounds.
A draw would have been enough to see Graham Arnold’s side through to the last 16, but a long-range effort from Tom Rogic in the 93rd minute wrapped up all three points in front of a boisterous crowd.
BLOG: Relive the Socceroos' win as it unfolded
MATCH REPORT: Australia overcome Syria to reach knockout stage
SPEAKING UP: Heart-warming reason for Mabil's goal celebration
THE EQUATION: Socceroos await Round of 16 opponent at AFC Asian Cup
There were roars from the noisy Syrian supporters as Omar Khrbin and Omar Al Shoma pulled back strikes from Awer Mabil and Chris Ikonomidis, but Australia’s players kept their cool to progress to the knockout phase.
“The crowd was unreal,” Grant said. “They were cheering everything [the Syria] players did - it was good to be a part of and witness.
“But, we could still hear our Aussie fans. A lot of the boys had families up there so we still had our backing. It was a great atmosphere and good to come away with a win.
“It was pretty tricky towards the end there, but everyone’s thrilled. Everyone’s happy to get the win and go through.”
The right-sided Sydney FC defender, who has featured in all three Asian Cup games so far, and completed a full 90 minutes in the victories over Palestine and Syria, added that the players can feel the support from far away as well as those in the stadium.
“It’s really easy to celebrate and enjoy it when you’re representing your country,” he said. “Everyone back home is wishing the best for us. To be part of it here, and really be amongst it and be on the pitch when we get to celebrate stuff like that… it’s pretty cool.
“I’ve got a massive family back home. They’re all on a group chat on facebook and I’ve been getting the updates and they’re all watching it live. They all stayed up pretty late to watch the game. Even my nephews tried to stay up. They didn’t last the whole game, but they are all up and supporting, which is really nice to see.”
Grant made his Socceroos debut in the friendly against Lebanon in November 2018, but has quickly become a key member of Graham Arnold’s squad and says he is thrilled by his whirlwind rise.
“[The last few months have been] huge,” the 27-year-old admitted. “I hadn’t played for the Socceroos until a couple of months ago. It’s happened pretty fast, but I’m just enjoying it and embracing every chance I get and trying to make the most it. So far so good.”
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