A thrilling penalty shootout win for the Socceroos against Uzbekistan in the Asian Cup Round of 16 now sets up a quarterfinal clash with host nation United Arab Emirates early on Saturday morning! We take a look at the game in full and give our betting tips below!
Saturday Jan 26th 3am AEDT
Australia couldn’t find any momentum going forward in their Round of 16 clash against Uzbekistan. They maintained 61% possession and fired off 17 shots to just 9 but ultimately failed to find the back of the net in regulation. The game finished both regular time and extra time as a 0-0 draw resulting in the second penalty shootout of the Round of 16.
After Socceroo defender Aziz Behich penalty was saved, the Australians looked like being bounced from the Asian Cup in thrilling fashion, however, goalkeeper Matty Ryan stepped up to the plate, saving two of the next three Uzbekistan penalties while Robbie Kruse, Apostolos Giannou and Matthew Leckie all slotted their chances.
The win sets up a date in the quarterfinals with host nation United Arab Emirates. The UAE topped Group A with just one win and two draws facing off against Thailand, Bahrain and India. There were some tense times in their Round of 16 clash against Kyrgyzstan when they allowed a 91st minute goal to level the game at 2-2 and head into extra time. However, the UAE found the back of the net in the first half of extra time to ensure their advancement to the quarterfinals.
The UAE are currently ranked No.79 on the FIFA world rankings, but they probably play like a team ranked higher than that. In a similar fashion to Australia, the UAE have struggled to find a reliable source of goals in recent times, but their strength comes in their ability to grind out low scoring wins or draws.
Since their unsuccessful World Cup qualification campaign which ended in a loss to Iraq, the UAE have played 22 competitive and friendly internationals including games in the Gulf Cup of Nations, the Kings Cup and the Asian Cup. In those 22 matches, they have won just eight in regular time, however, they have lost just seven in regular time also, resulting in seven draws.
Australia have had much the same issues since returning from the world cup. With stalwarts Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak now enjoying retirement, regular starting striker tom Juric axed from the side and star playmaker Aaron Mooy on the sidelines with injury, the Socceroos have a massive hole going forward. To make matter worse, they’ll be without their best attacking player, Tom Rogic, for the quarterfinal after the Celtic star received his second yellow card in the game against Uzbekistan.
The Aussies found some scoring prowess in their final two group stage games against Palestine and Syria, slotting three goals in each match, but without Rogic in the line-up, avenues to goal really dry up. Starting striker Jamie Maclaren has looked fairly ordinary in the tournament so far and will likely be replaced by Apostolos Giannou for this match while Matthew Leckie will certainly be injected into the starting lineup for extra playmaking after looking like a livewire off the bench against Uzbekistan.
The UAE home crowd will be right behind them here and although they have looked a little lacklustre going forward so far this tournament, we think the Aussies will struggle to score on them on Saturday morning, and we could see yet another clash heading to extra time/penalties.
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