‘You live for these moments’ - Toure honoured to send Australia U-23 to Semi Finals
Al Hassan Toure says he is ‘grateful’ and ‘honoured’ after delivering a match-winning display to put Australia U-23 into the Semi Finals of the AFC U-23 Championship.
The 19-year-old was introduced in the 65th minute at Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok with the Green and Gold locked in a stalemate against Syria in the Quarter-Final clash.
Toure proved decisive when he pounced to score the winning goal 11 minutes into the first period of extra-time as Graham Arnold’s side advanced to the last four of the Thailand-based competition with a 1-0 win.
The Australian forward, who moved down under at the age of five with his Liberian parents, has committed his future to his adopted nation and could not have been prouder to score the decisive goal.
“It’s a great honour to score for my country, especially to get us to a semi-final, where we haven’t been in a while,” Toure said.
“It was a good team goal. All I remember was a good pass by [Aiden O’Neill] and I was lucky to finish it.”
“You live for these moments, to play in semi-finals. Not many people get that opportunity to play so I’m grateful.”
The Adelaide United dynamo has started twice and made two substitute appearances in this tournament and his goal against Syria was his first competitive goal for Australia U-23.
In a match of few chances, Toure’s clinical finish was the difference between the teams but he revealed it took some calming words from head coach Arnold to keep the team composed.
“[Arnold] said to remain calm and keep doing what we have been doing the whole game,” he said.
“We kept around each other and, even though it’s tough conditions, we played well all through the match.”
Progressing to the last four puts the Green and Gold on the brink of securing one of three tickets to qualify to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
A semi-final win against either Korea Republic or Jordan would clinch an Olympics place for the first since 2008, while a loss would mean an all-or-nothing third-place playoff for the final spot in Japan.
“We haven’t qualified yet,” Toure added.
“Although it was good to set in the semi-finals, you have to stay composed and cool headed.
“There is still more to go. We still have two more games.”
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