Gersbach buoyed by Australia’s promising start at AFC U-23 Championship

Defender Alex Gersbach feels there are plenty of positives to take from Australia’s 1-1 draw with Iraq in the opening match of the AFC U-23 Championship on Wednesday night.

Despite taking a second-half lead through Reno Piscopo’s jaw-dropping free-kick, the young Aussies were pegged back after Iraq equalised 13 minutes from time.

Dylan Ryan’s late header hit the foot of the post as Graham Arnold’s side almost snatched a late win but it wasn’t to be as Australia had to settle for a draw.

“It’s really disappointing to be honest not to come away with the three points,” Gersbach told

“We had every intention to win this game but it’s useless thinking about it now.

“From tomorrow we have to think about the next game against Thailand on Saturday night [Sunday morning AEDT] and we have to remain positive.”

REPORT: Piscopo nets outrageous free kick as Australia U-23 draw with Iraq
WATCH: Australia’s Group A games shown on My Football YouTube Channel & Kayo Sports

There was a lot to like about Australia’s performance and they controlled possession for long periods of the match and restricted Iraq to few chances.

Australia’s pressing game forced Iraq into a number of errors in the own half, with only some excellent goalkeeping and wayward finishing denying the green and gold more goals.

“We need to be more clinical in the front third, that’s pretty obvious,” Gersbach conceded.

“When we went 1-0 up we should have seen out the game and controlled it a little more.

“We had control of the game for the most part and after we scored that goal we controlled it for a little bit but then we let them back in the game.

“A bit of silly defending and stupid fouls and little things like that let Iraq back in the game and they capitalised on that.

“The positives are there, the way we want to play, everyone was trying to focus on that and a really nice goal from Reno [Piscopo].”

READ: Australia’s U-23 men’s football team pledge support to Australia’s Bushfire Appeal
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW: Ultimate guide to the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship

Australia next take on host-nation Thailand on Sunday morning (AEDT), who won 5-0 over Bahrain in the other match in Group A.

The AFC U-23 Championship sees Australia competing for a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games alongside 15 other Asian nations. 

Australia’s Group A games will be streamed on the My Football YouTube Channel and shown on Kayo Sports.

The top three nations at the AFC U-23 Championship Thailand 2020 (excluding Japan) will secure a place as one of Asia’s representatives in the men’s football competition at the forthcoming Tokyo Games. 

Next match

Australia U-23 v Thailand U-23
Date: Saturday, 11 January 2020
Venue: Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand
Kick-off: 8.15pm (local); 12.15am + 1 (Sunday, 12 January AEDT)
Click here for tickets
Broadcast: MyFootball YouTube Channel, Kayo Sports

MORE: ‘Five kids will be Caltex Socceroos by end of 2020’: Opportunity knocking for Arnold’s U-23 squad
Q&A: Al Hassan Toure: ‘I want to let younger generations know that anything is possible’