Glover expects improvement as vital Thailand clash looms at AFC U23 Championship

Goalkeeper Tom Glover says the Australian squad have already switched focus to the potentially-decisive clash against Thailand at the AFC U-23 Championship on Saturday night.

Graham Arnold’s youngsters opened their campaign with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Iraq on Wednesday night.

Next up for the green and gold is the dangerous host-nation, who got off to the perfect start in Group A by thrashing Bahrain 5-0.

Needing to finish in the top-two to advance from the group stage, Glover knows the Aussies need a positive result at the famous Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok to boost hopes of progressing to the Quarter Finals.

“I watched the [Thailand v Bahrain] highlights this morning. They look good so we know it’s not going to be an easy game,” Glover told reporters on Thursday.

“I think they are expecting a decent crowd as well. But I think if we play our game we won’t have any problems.

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“It’s a good opportunity to showcase [ourselves] and it’s games like this where we probably have to win and that can make us champions.”

Glover felt Australia missed a great opportunity to open their campaign with a win having taken a second-half lead against Iraq through Reno Piscopo’s outstanding free-kick.

But Australia were unable to see-out the result in the stifling conditions, with substitute Mohammad Qasem equalising 13 minutes from time.

“We would have liked all three points but we have to keep positive,” Glover said.

“This group we have, everyone believes we can do it. It’s disappointing we didn’t get all three points being 1-0 up but it’s how we bounce back.

“The conditions weren't too bad. We had a training camp in Malaysia before [the tournament] to acclimatise and the first couple of days there were tough because we weren’t used to the humidity.

“But that’s why you have those camps to prepare yourselves for these tournaments and to go the distance here.

“All the boys felt great…there’s no excuses in the humidity and the heat because everyone is used to it by now.”

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WATCH: Australia’s Group A games shown on My Football YouTube Channel & Kayo Sports

Australia's starting XI sing the anthem ahead of the Iraq clash
Australia's starting XI sing the anthem ahead of the Iraq clash

With just two days between matches, Arnold is likely to rotate his side for the Thailand clash to ensure they are fresh and firing.

The squad will have a recovery session on Thursday before hitting the training pitch on Friday in their only field session before matchday.

“Arnie’s big emphasis has been we have 23 players here who are ready to do a job. It’s not just the 11 players on the pitch, the other 12 that are on the bench are ready to go,” Glover said.

“We have a squad of 23 players here that are raring to go and while two days between games is not normal, everyone is fit so there’s plenty of time to turn around and we’ll be ready for Saturday.”

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.

Arnold’s charges will play Thailand in their second match of the tournament on Saturday, 11 January 2020 (local time) at what is expected to be a well-attended fixture at the iconic Rajamangala Stadium, before rounding out their Group A campaign with a game against Bahrain on Tuesday, 14 January 2020 at Thammasat Stadium. 

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

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ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW: Ultimate guide to the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship

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