The Socceroos will be up against the weight of home support when they meet the United Arab Emirates in the Quarter Finals of AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ on Saturday morning (AEDT).
Al Ain will again be the scene as Australia attempt to build on their nail-biting shootout triumph against Uzbekistan, which came after 120 minutes of heavy possession and perspiration.
Mat Ryan shone with two superb spot-kick saves and Graham Arnold has expressed confidence in his players’ ability to back up from that match.
He will, however, be forced to compensate for the absence of a suspended key man for a do-or-die encounter that is simply not to be missed.
Where and when
Date: Saturday, January 26 (AEDT)
Venue: Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
Kick-off: 3:00am (AEDT)
Socceroos squad news
Socceroos boss Arnold will have to make do without Tom Rogic after the influential playmaker picked up his second yellow card of the tournament against Uzbekistan.
Massimo Luongo could come in if Jackson Irvine is asked to plug the hole, while Mathew Leckie is also likely to come under consideration for a starting berth.
The Hertha Berlin winger returned from a hamstring injury last time out and appeared free of any discomfort throughout an encouraging cameo that ended with him stroking home the winning penalty.
Fellow forwards Robbie Kruse and Apostolos Giannou were also on target from 12 yards as Arnold’s substitutes all made contributions to the cause.
Andrew Nabbout, meanwhile, is continuing his recovery from a groin problem and may soon be ready to add extra depth to the exciting attacking options.
DOWNLOAD: Official Socceroos AFC Asian Cup wallpaper
READ: Shootout star Ryan reflects on his 'Schwarzer moment'
LECKIE: 'I've never hit a penalty that good'
MILLIGAN: Leckie's return 'adds new dimension'
DEGENEK: 'I've never seen anyone do that. I was amazed'
GIANNOU: Penalty preparation paid off
GALLERY: Leckie and Ryan the heroes for Socceroos against Uzbekistan
Current AFC rankings
Prevailing on penalties against a disciplined and defensive Uzbekistan will have reinforced the Socceroos' belief they can emerge victorious from high-pressure situations.
That will need to be the case once more on Saturday morning (AEDT) with host nation UAE certain to enjoy fervent support.
An in-form Ryan certainly plays in Australia’s favour and the gun goalkeeper takes two clean sheets in his last three outings into the next assignment.
Another in Al Ain would go a long way to securing the team’s passage into the Semi Finals.
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