Toure’s extra-time strike moves Australia U-23 within one win of Olympic Games
Super sub Al Hassan Toure struck an extra-time winner as Australia U-23 moved within one win of their first Olympic Games in 12 years.
A 101st-minute effort from the Adelaide United forward earned the Green and Gold a 1-0 win against Syria as Graham Arnold’s side advanced to the final four of the AFC U-23 Championship.
Toure surged behind the Syrian defence to connect with Aidan O’Neill’s defence-splitting pass and added a clinical finish to edge Australia ahead, in what turned out to be the decisive goal.
Australia play their the semi-final on Wednesday 22, January against the victor of the quarter final match between Korea Republic and Jordan, which is played on Sunday evening AEDT.
The two finalists the of competition, held in Thailand, will book their place to the 2020 Olympic Games and the winner of the third-place playoff will join them in Tokyo, along with host nation Japan.
Australia missed out on qualifying for the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games, last competing in Beijing in 2008.
Tom Glover came to the Green and Gold’s rescue in the 10th minute when he saved with his legs after Mohammad Al Bari broke through on goal, before Reno Piscopo sent a warning shot fizzing over the crossbar after a neat exchange with Nick D’Agostino on 21 minutes.
In a closely-fought contest, Toure was sent on for Daniel Bowman on 65 minutes and the 19-year-old almost got a head on Thomas Deng’s dangerous cross which flashed across the Syria goal on 74 minutes.
But Toure made his chance count in the first-half of extra-time with a one-touch outside-of-the-boot finish from Brisbane Roar midfielder O’Neill’s precision through ball.
D’Agostino missed a chance to wrap up the win when the Perth Glory attacker fired wide from Trent Buhagiar’s cross a minute after the restart, but Australia held firm in the closing stages to progress.
Australia U-23 Men’s National Team – Upcoming Fixture
Australia U-23 v Korea Republic U-23 OR Jordan U-23 – AFC U-23 Championship Thailand 2020 Semi Final
Date: Wednesday, 22 January 2020
Venue: Thammasat Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand
Kick-off: 8.15pm (local); 12.15pm +1 (AEDT)
Stream/Broadcast (Australia Only): Fox Sports, Kayo Sports, My Football YouTube Channel