‘We’ll show the Aussie spirit’: Arnold confident Australia will respond against Uzbekistan
Graham Arnold has urged Australia’s U-23’s to put their semi-final disappointment behind them and backed their Aussie spirit to shine through in Saturday’s third-place playoff against Uzbekistan.
Australia missed a spot in the AFC U-23 Championship final after a hard-fought 2-0 defeat against Korea Republic on Thursday morning.
But the side will have another chance to secure a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics if they can topple the Uzbeks in a winner-takes-all third-place playoff on Saturday night (AEDT).
“We have got to show, and we will show, the Aussie spirit of fighting (against Uzbekistan),” Arnold said.
“I said to the boys after the game ‘great effort, we did well in patches, but that game is over now, there’s nothing you can do about that’.
“South Korea were the better team on the night. It is all now about what’s in front of us and that’s Uzbekistan on Saturday and winning that game.”
Australia battled hard against Korea but were beaten by two second-half goals.
Kim Dae-won pounced not long after the break when he finished off after a shot hit the post, before Lee Dong-gyeong doubled the advantage 20 minutes later.
Despite missing out on what would have been an historic first appearance in the final of this tournament at U-23 level.
“It was the first time that Australia has been into a semi-final at this age group and for my players in the dressing room it was the first time that they have experienced playing a semi-final of an Asian Cup and being in that in environment,” Arnold said.
“So it was a great learning curve for them, a great lesson for them and we move forward.”
Arnold added: “There were four boxes that we needed to tick when we came to the tournament and the most important thing was getting into the last four to get two chances to go to the Olympics.
“Obviously it is disappointing tonight, but you have to take your hat off to South Korea. South Korea played very well, and we were beaten by a better team tonight.”
Australia U-23 Men’s National Team – Upcoming Fixture
Australia U-23 v Uzbekistan U-23 – AFC U-23 Championship Thailand 2020 Third-Place Match Date: Saturday, 25 January 2020
Venue: Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand
Kick-off: 7.30pm (local); 11.30pm (AEDT)
Stream/Broadcast (Australia Only): Fox Sports, Kayo Sports, My Football YouTube Channel