The Joeys have sparked new life into their AFC U-16 Championship campaign after defeating Iraq 2-1 in Malaysia.
Trevor Morgan’s side beat the defending champions yesterday evening (AEST) to restore their hopes of reaching the quarter finals.
Should Australia defeat Afghanistan in their final Group D match on Friday night (AEST), Morgan’s men will qualify for the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup after a three-year absence from the tournament.
It took a performance of some magnitude from the Joeys against the West Asian nation, having fallen to a 3-0 defeat to Korea Republic on Saturday.
But Australia proved they were up to the task from the opening whistle and went toe to toe with their opponents throughout the first half, which ended with the dismissal of Ali Kadhim Johni for a second yellow card.
The Joeys initially struggled to make the most of their man advantage but capitalised in the 66th minute through a fine Luke Duzel half-volley at the back post.
Australia doubled the lead six minutes later when Noah Botic slotted past Iraqi goalkeeper Mohammed Hasan Al Hamadani from close range after some fine combination play on the edge of the box.
Iraq received a lifeline late on as Abdulrazzaq Qasim Subaihawi pulled a goal back but the Joeys held strong for a huge three points.
(Images courtesy of www.theafc.com)
“It was a difficult match against Iraq, they are strong opponents and not having success in our first match, it was going to be a strong test of character,” Morgan told www.theafc.com after the match.
“We believed if we played our style of football we could be successful in this match and in the end, we have the result. They are very young players and the important thing is to build confidence and I believe we can improve a lot more.
“The sending off, for me, was a big test of concentration. It should be a huge advantage but young players make wrong decisions sometimes and we will learn from it.”
The Joeys will look to seal passage through to the quarter finals on Friday against Afghanistan. Kick-off is 6.30pm (AEST).
Australia v Afghanistan
Friday, 28 September 2018
Venue: Petaling Jaya Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kick-off: 4.30pm (local); 6.30pm (AEST)
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