Australia vs Syria, The Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha witnessed a curious concoction of footballing fortunes on January 18th as Australia, the AFC Asian Cup giants, scraped past a spirited Syria side 1-0. While the Socceroos secured their ticket to the knockout stages, their performance left more questions than answers, while Syria, despite the defeat, emerged with their heads held high.
Australia: Underwhelming Kings March On Australia vs Syria
Graham Arnold’s men, four-time champions of the continent, entered the match expected to waltz through a determined but seemingly outmatched Syria. Yet, from the whistle’s blow, a different script unfolded. Australia’s passing lacked its usual rhythm, their attack looked blunt, and their defense appeared vulnerable. Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout toiled upfront, failing to convert promising chances, while the Syrian backline, marshaled by the experienced Omar Midani, stood firm.
Syria: Resilient Underdogs Roar Despite Setback:
The “Qasioun Eagles,” under Muhamed Kwidar’s astute guidance, refused to play the role of sacrificial lambs. Their compact shape frustrated Australia’s build-up play, and Mahmoud Al Aswad and Abdul Rahman Oues threatened on the counter, forcing Maty Ryan into smart saves. Syria’s performance pulsated with passion and resilience, earning them the respect of the neutral fans.
Irvine’s Strike Saves the Day (Again):
Just as doubts began to swirl around Australia’s dominance, their talisman, Jackson Irvine, stepped up. In a carbon copy of his goal against India, he received the ball outside the box, unleashed a powerful shot that deflected off a defender, and sent the ball into the Syrian net in the 61st minute. This fortuitous strike, while lacking in elegance, provided the solitary goal that ultimately separated the two teams.
Beyond the Scoreline
Australia’s win, while securing their qualification, raises concerns about their overall form. Their attack sputtered, their defense looked shaky, and the spark of creativity seemed absent. To succeed in the knockout stages, they need to rediscover their attacking fluency and tighten their defensive discipline.
For Syria, despite the defeat, there’s much to be proud of. Their defensive solidity, counter-attacking threat, and overall fighting spirit showcased their potential as a force to be reckoned with on the Asian stage. They can use this experience as a springboard for future success.