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 www.socceroos.com.au.
“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