Giannou: Penalty preparation key in Socceroos dramatic shootout triumph #AFCAsianCup2019


Striker Apostolos Giannou says the preparation the Socceroos did on penalties heading into the Round of 16 clash against Uzbekistan was key in their victory.

Australia moved into the Quarter Finals of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ after seeing off the Uzbeks 4-2 in the shootout on Tuesday morning (AEDT).

With tournament football always throwing up difficult matches, there is always the possibility games will be decided on penalties, and the Socceroos were ready.

“We had it in the back of our heads just in case it got to the point [of a shootout],” Giannou revealed to

“So, the last couple of training sessions we actually worked on it and we were ready for the penalty shootout.”

He added on keeper Maty Ryan, who made two stunning saves in the shootout: “He’s incredible. He’s an amazing player, amazing keeper, and he’s probably the reason we are in the last eight.

“He plays a big role, he stepped up when he needed to step up and we thank him for that.”

Giannou, who came off the bench for Australia in the second half, was also a key contributor in the shootout.

He took the Socceroos’ third penalty attempt, blasting home his spot-kick with confidence.

“It’s not an easy place to be at but I’m very happy that I scored and I’m very happy the team progressed to the quarter finals,” the AEK Larnaca striker said.

“It was a big night, but we need to recover and refresh for the next game.”

And that next fixture for Graham Arnold’s men is a Quarter Final against the tournament hosts United Arab Emirates.

Saturday morning’s clash (AEDT) – at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium – means the Socceroos will avoid travel, remaining at their current base in Al Ain.

“It’s a good thing that we’re staying here,” Giannou admitted.

“We are used to the environment and all we can do is get ourselves ready for [UAE], get our recovery in and start focusing on the next game.”


Source : Socceroos WEBSITE

Match preview: United Arab Emirates v Australia #AFCAsianCup2019


The Socceroos will be up against the weight of home support when they meet the United Arab Emirates in the Quarter Finals of AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ on Saturday morning (AEDT).

Al Ain will again be the scene as Australia attempt to build on their nail-biting shootout triumph against Uzbekistan, which came after 120 minutes of heavy possession and perspiration.

Mat Ryan shone with two superb spot-kick saves and Graham Arnold has expressed confidence in his players’ ability to back up from that match.

He will, however, be forced to compensate for the absence of a suspended key man for a do-or-die encounter that is simply not to be missed.

Where and when

Date: Saturday, January 26 (AEDT)

Venue: Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain

Kick-off: 3:00am (AEDT)

Socceroos squad news

Socceroos boss Arnold will have to make do without Tom Rogic after the influential playmaker picked up his second yellow card of the tournament against Uzbekistan.

Massimo Luongo could come in if Jackson Irvine is asked to plug the hole, while Mathew Leckie is also likely to come under consideration for a starting berth.

The Hertha Berlin winger returned from a hamstring injury last time out and appeared free of any discomfort throughout an encouraging cameo that ended with him stroking home the winning penalty.

Fellow forwards Robbie Kruse and Apostolos Giannou were also on target from 12 yards as Arnold’s substitutes all made contributions to the cause.

Andrew Nabbout, meanwhile, is continuing his recovery from a groin problem and may soon be ready to add extra depth to the exciting attacking options.

Andrew Nabbout
Andrew Nabbout

Current AFC rankings

Australia: 2

UAE: 8

Final word

Prevailing on penalties against a disciplined and defensive Uzbekistan will have reinforced the Socceroos’ belief they can emerge victorious from high-pressure situations.

That will need to be the case once more on Saturday morning (AEDT) with host nation UAE certain to enjoy fervent support.

An in-form Ryan certainly plays in Australia’s favour and the gun goalkeeper takes two clean sheets in his last three outings into the next assignment.

Another in Al Ain would go a long way to securing the team’s passage into the Semi Finals.


Source : Socceroos WEBSITE

#AFCAsianCup2019 Preview – Quarter-final: Arnold in no rush to name Australia lineup



Al Ain: Graham Arnold will wait until the morning of his side’s meeting with the United Arab Emirates before deciding on his starting lineup as defending champions Australia set their sights on a place in the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 on Friday.

Arnold will break from his usual practice of informing his players ahead of their final training session to give himself and his coaching staff more time to make an assessment of his team in the aftermath of their penalty shootout win over Uzbekistan in the Round of 16.

The Central Asian side pushed the Socceroos to the limits in their meeting in Al Ain on Monday, with goalkeeper Maty Ryan emerging as the hero for Australia as the country progressed to the quarter-finals for the third tournament in a row.

“We’ve recovered very well from the performance against Uzbekistan – the extra time and the penalty shootout – and the boys are in fantastic headspace,” said Arnold. “Probably playing those extra minutes has built a lot of confidence and belief within the group. When we look back at that performance, we know there’s a lot of improvement left in us and I expect a great performance tomorrow night.

“Normally I name the team the night – or the last training session – before, but for this one I decided not to. It’s really around the side of recovery. We only played three days ago and I want to see the fresh players training today and I want to see the mentality and the freshness and I’ll make the decision on the line-up tomorrow morning.”

Round of 16: Australia vs Uzbekistan

Tom Rogic will miss the game due to suspension but, with Mathew Leckie now fully recovered from a hamstring injury and Andrew Nabbout declaring himself fit, Arnold now has a squad that is close to full strength available going into the game against the tournament hosts.

The game will be the fourth time in five games at this year’s AFC Asian Cup that the Socceroos will have faced off against a side from West Asia and Arnold believes the earlier meetings with Jordan, Syria and Palestine will have helped prepare his team for the clash at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.


“Uzbekistan played more of a European style game, I think the experience of playing against Syria and Palestine is more close to the UAE,” he said. “We are learning a lot every game. UAE are the home nation and we respect the UAE but we will play our way, in our style and expect to dominate the game.

“We’ve done our homework on them and no doubt they’ve done their homework on us. We have a lot of belief in our group. We work a lot with the players mentally to get that advantage over the opposition.”


And Arnold believes a partisan home crowd is just as likely to put pressure on the tournament hosts as it is to intimidate his players when they meet on Friday evening.

“A full stadium for the UAE can work two ways,” he said. “It can work to help or it can work the opposite way and put a lot of pressure on them because they’re the home nation. That has nothing to do with us. All we can do is prepare ourselves properly and get ourselves ready.”

Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE

Meulensteen: Socceroos ready for “great occasion” against UAE


Assistant coach Rene Meulensteen believes should the United Arab Emirates live up to their pre-game vow to attack the Socceroos, it could play into Australia’s hands in Saturday morning’s (AEDT) AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ Quarter Final.

In his pre-game press conference ahead of tomorrow’s clash, UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni said he’ll instruct his side to attack the Socceroos at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

It’s a scenario Australia hasn’t encountered too often at the tournament so far, with most opponents happy to sit deep and play on the counter-attack.

Asked if UAE’s plan to attack would benefit the Socceroos, Meulensteen said: “Yes I believe so because it’s always very difficult if you come up against opponents that basically start the game not to lose it.

“Then it’s for us to break them down. You need the quality, you need the speed of play, but you also need things going for you.

“The chances you create, you need to put in the back of the net. But if a team plays to win it becomes a more expansive game and that will definitely suit us.”

Australia put the final touches to their preparation on Thursday, with a short but intense session designed to ensure the players are ready for the challenge of trying to book a spot in the last four.

As the host nation, UAE will have the majority of support in Al Ain but it’s a scenario the Socceroos are thriving under.

“It’s an exciting game for us. Its always great to play the home nation, they have great support and whether that brings extra pressure for them, I don’t know,” Meulensteen said.

“We just have to make sure we’re at our best, at our very, very best, and it will be a great occasion that’s for sure.”

The Socceroos get underway against UAE at 3am (AEDT) on Saturday and you can catch all the action live on FOX SPORTS 505.

You can also see all the goals and follow the game from Al Ain in our live match blog on


Source : Socceroos WEBSITE

‘We’ve got a good vibe going’: Leckie buzzing ahead of Socceroos’ date with UAE


A “fresh” Mat Leckie says the Socceroos’ gripping penalty shootout win has bought the tight-knit squad even closer together ahead of Saturday’s (AEDT) AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ Quarter Final against the United Arab Emirates.

Graham Arnold’s side booked their spot in the last eight thanks to their thrilling 4-2 shootout win over Uzbekistan on Tuesday (AEDT).

Leckie played a significant role in the victory, slotting the winning spot-kick after keeper Mat Ryan had made two incredible saves.

And with another huge clash against the tournament’s host nation to come in the early hours of Saturday morning (AEDT), the speedy attacker says the manner of Round of 16 victory has left a very positive feeling in the camp.

“We’ve got a good vibe going after the last game. It was a great game and obviously a special finish,” Leckie told

“It’s always exciting penalty shootouts and the fact we ended up winning, it brought us closer together.”

Leckie added: “Since I’ve been here in the national team there hasn’t been any penalty shootouts so it was new for a lot of us.

“I think the boys that took their penalties did really well. The focus to be calm in that situation, we did really well.

“We went behind in the shootout but Maty [Ryan] did a great job to get us back into it and the boys did well to finish it off.

“It’s a nervous moment for every player but it’s just about being mentally strong and getting the job done.”

The Uzbekistan clash was Leckie’s first appearance of the tournament, having missed the entire group stage as he recovered from a hamstring injury.

Mathew Leckie celebrates the winning penalty against Uzbekistan

The Socceroos medical staff did a superb job nursing the Hertha Berlin winger back to full fitness and Leckie was able to play almost an hour off the bench at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium.

With playmaker Tom Rogic suspended for the UAE clash, Leckie is one of a host of options for Arnold to fill the void.

“I feel good. I wasn’t expecting to play [60 minutes] but it ended up working out like that,” Leckie said.

“I was a bit sore after the game, being out for a few weeks, but with the recovery we’ve done, and we’ve been really focused on that, I’m feeling really good again.

“I’m feeling fresh so if I am most of the boys are. We’ll be buzzing for the game.”

The Socceroos get underway against UAE at 3am (AEDT) on Saturday and you can catch all the action live on FOX SPORTS 505.

You can also see all the goals and follow the game from Al Ain in our live match blog on


Source : Socceroos WEBSITE

Your Ultimate Guide to United Arab Emirates v Socceroos


And then there were eight. The Socceroos shootout triumph over Uzbekistan on Tuesday morning (AEDT) has earned Graham Arnold’s side a thrilling Quarter Final shot at hosts United Arab Emirates in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™.

On another day, Australia’s attacking philosophy – which brought six goals in the group stage – would surely have paid dividends, with more than 60% of possession and 17 shots seeing them through in the regulation 90 minutes.

But a combination of good defending and a fine performance from Uzbek goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov led to a nerve-shredding shootout that made standout stars of Mat Ryan and a fit-again Mathew Leckie, who netted the vital winning spot-kick.

Now the Socceroos’ attention turns to the hosts, who reached the last eight courtesy of a 3-2 win over the Kyrgyz Republic on Tuesday morning (AEDT).

Build Up

Having finished the group stage with confidence-boosting wins over Palestine (3-0) and a dogged Syria (3-2), Australia faced another free-scoring side in Uzbekistan in the Round of 16.

In the event, two of the highest scoring sides in the competition battled out an absorbing 0-0 draw, before two fine saves from Mat Ryan paved the way for a 4-2 win in the shootout, capped by Leckie’s decisive spot-kick.

There is sure to be a full house at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, as the host nation face the Socceroos, but belief is running high for the Green and Gold.

Squad news

The Socceroos reported a clean bill of health after the tense victory over Uzbekistan, but will go into the Quarter Final without playmaker Tom Rogic, who picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in the Round of 16 match.

Mat Leckie returned from a hamstring injury to make his first appearance at this year’s Asian Cup in the last round, and his presence added a spark to Australia’s forward play.

The winger, who plays his club football in Germany with Hertha Berlin, played for almost an hour against Uzbekistan, and was a calm presence as he fired home the crucial spot-kick to take the Socceroos through to the last eight. He is likely to figure in Graham Arnold’s plans as the manager looks to outsmart the UAE.

The dependable Mark Milligan has been outstanding so far, and led the way by scoring Australia’s first in the shootout.

Confidence will be high for forwards Robbie Kruse and Apostolos Giannou, who were also on target from 12 yards, while further good news for Arnold’s striking options comes with the revelation that Andrew Nabbout is recovering well from a groin problem.

Elsewhere, Josh Risdon – who went off at half-time with a groin injury in the tournament’s opening match against Jordan – is available again after being named among the substitutes against Uzbekistan in the last round.

Source : Socceroos WEBSITE