WATCH: Joeys advance to Quarter Finals after Tajikistan win
The Subway Joeys have advanced to the knockout stages of the AFC U17 Asian Cup Thailand 2023™ thanks to a 2-0 win over Tajikistan at the Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok on Thursday evening.
The Aussies only needed a draw to secure their passage to the quarter finals but second-half goals from Daniel Bennie and substitute Nathan Amanatidis ensured consecutive victories to finish second in Group C on six points.
Bennie opened the scoring with a simple tap in before Amanatidis, as he did against China, sealed the hard-fought triumph deep in stoppage with a clinical finish.
Australia will have a date with the winners of Group D (most likely Japan or Uzbekistan) on Monday at 8pm AEST.
Brad Maloney made three changes to the line up that defeated China with Aden Green, Fabian Talladira and Corey Sutherland all handed their maiden starts of the tournament.
Australia began the match with a real sense of urgency and fashioned a half chance inside 30 seconds before Miguel Di Pizio flashed wide a powerful low drive wide of the far bottom corner.
But after Tajikistan absorbed that initial spell of pressure they responded and created a flurry of chances largely coming on the break and from a succession of corners.
Fortunately, they were wasteful in front of goal with the Subway Joeys forced to navigate long spells of pressure.
Abubakr Sulaymonov had an opportunity towards the conclusion of the first half but his shot was awry as both sides entered the sheds scoreless.
Maloney turned to his bench at the break substituting Mitch Glasson, who misses the next match through suspension due to the accumulation of yellow cards, for Campbell Dovison.
An improved second half performance from Australia saw them find the breakthrough in the 64th minute through Bennie, who reacted quickest to the rebound when Khamidov Mehrubon could only parry Nestory Irankunda's powerful, low attempt.
Saidov Sheravgan thought he equalised when his header breached Anthony Pavlesic's net, but the assistant referee's flag was immediately raised for offside.
Bennie should have made it 2-0 five minutes from time, unable to keep down Amanatidis' cutback from the byline.
However, the pair combined again with the outcome this time proving fruitful as Bennie slipped a pass forward for Amanatidis to run onto and he skipped past a defender, nonchalantly slotting beyond the onrushing keeper.
Australia will the need to reach the semi-finals to qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2023™, currently scheduled to run 10 November – 2 December 2023, with the host country to be confirmed by FIFA following Peru’s withdrawal as tournament host.
Australia 2 (Bennie 64', Amanatidis 90+9')
Date: Thursday, 22 June 2023
Venue: Rajamangala National Stadium, Thailand
Australia Lineup: 1. Anthony Pavlesic (C), 2. Peter Antoniou (13. Zac De Jesus 58'), 3. Aden Green (15. Nathan Barrie 85'), 5. Bailey O'Neil, 6. Andriano Lebib, 7. Daniel Bennie, 8. Corey Sutherland (14. Giovanni De Abreu 58'), 9. Mitchell Glasson (20. Campbell Dovison 46'), 10. Miguel Di Pizio, 17. Nestory Irankunda (22. Nathan Amanatidis 66'), 21. Fabian Talladira
Substitutes not used: 4. Sotiri Phillis, 11. Tiago Quintal, 12. Daniel Graskoski, 16. Eddie Ince, 18. Michael Vonja, 19. Richard Nkomo, 23. Jordan Hoey