Biggest-ever AFC Asian Cup opens with spectacular showpiece #Farewell2019


Abu Dhabi: The AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 kicked off in style today with a grand opening ceremony at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.

Against the backdrop of a packed stadium and hundreds of millions around the world, football fans were treated to a breathtaking live show with a series of on-pitch music performances in a fitting tribute to the excellence of Asian football and the vibrant spirit, colour and atmosphere of the host nation.

Internationally renowned singing sensations from the UAE, Hussain Al Jassmi, Balqees Ahmed Fathi and Eida Al Menhali were the ceremony’s main stars, which set the perfect stage for the tournament’s opener between the hosts UAE and Bahrain.

Titled “Zanaha Zayed,” the opening ceremony’s theme song was written by Arif Al Khaja and composed by Khalid Nasser.

As many as 600 expert performers from the UAE and around the world participated in the live extravaganza including drummers, Ayalla dancers and origami falcons – all of whom created a series of mesmerising mass choreography formations for over 13 magical minutes.

Leading to the highly-anticipated kick-off, the show depicted the story of the tournament’s mascot, Mansour, an Emirati boy inspired by the beauty of the flight of falcons. Moved by their gracious movements, Mansour extended a warm Emirati welcome to Asia and the rest of the world.

Produced by those behind the successful opening ceremonies of the UEFA Champions League finals since 2014, the UEFA European Championships 2016 and several CAF African Cup of Nations, the opening ceremony also featured incredible giant falcons, over-sized lotus petals and a huge replica of the new AFC Asian Cup trophy.


Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation Website

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

#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

#AFCAsianCup2019 Round of 16 line-up confirmed


Abu Dhabi: After 36 matches, and no shortage of drama, the qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 knockout stage have been finalised.

The line-up was confirmed on Thursday, when Oman and Vietnam claimed the Round of 16’s two remaining places, setting the scene for what promises to be an unforgettable climax to the largest ever edition of the competition.

Who, when, where?


Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai.15:00, January 20

Unbeaten Group B winners Jordan face a Vietnam side appearing in the knockout stage for the first time since 2007, and just the second time in their history, with the winners to meet either Japan or Saudi Arabia in the quarter-finals.


Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain. 18:00, January 20

Appearing in their first AFC Asian Cup knockout fixture since 1972, Thailand will meet FIFA World Cup-winner Marcello Lippi’s China PR, who qualified as the second placed team in Group C.


Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi. 21:00, January 20

Three-time Asian champions and Group D winners Islamic Republic of Iran will look to continue their unbeaten start to UAE 2019 against an emerging Oman side revitalised by a memorable 3-1 win over Turkmenistan.


Sharjah Stadium, Sharjah. 15:00, January 21

A blockbuster clash between two of the competition’s most successful nations in Sharjah. Four-time champions and Group F winners Japan will meet Saudi Arabia, who have lifted the trophy on three occasions and finished second in Group E.


Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain. 18:00, January 21

In a re-match of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup semi-final, reigning champions Australia will meet Hector Cuper’s emerging Uzbekistan, after both sides qualified by finishing second in their respective groups.


Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi. 21:00, January 21

In front of a typically passionate Zayed Sports City Stadium crowd, host nation United Arab Emirates will face Kyrgyz Republic, who have made history by reaching the knockout stage in their first appearance at the Finals.


Rashid Stadium, Dubai. 17:00, January 22

A Son Heung-min-inspired Korea Republic will look to continue their perfect start to the AFC Asian Cup against a Bahrain outfit buoyed by the dramatic last-minute winner against India which sealed their path to the last 16.


Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi. 20:00, January 22

Qatar, and current tournament leading scorer Almoez Ali, meet 2007 champions Iraq in a mouth-watering final Round of 16 tie, with the winners to face either Korea Republic or Bahrain in the last eight.


Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE

#AFCAsianCup2019 IR Iran 0-0 Iraq

Dubai: Islamic Republic of Iran sealed top spot in Group D of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 after playing to a 0-0 draw with Iraq on Wednesday.

As group winners, Iran will play the third-placed team from either Group B, E or F in Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Sunday, while runners-up Iraq will face the winners of Group E – either Saudi Arabia or Qatar – in Al Nahyan Stadium on Tuesday.

Carlos Queiroz made four changes to Iran’s starting lineup, with Alireza Jahanbakhsh – who had missed the opening two fixtures – being given a chance to play before a packed Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.

Despite having secured qualification to the Round of 16, both sides adopted a high-tempo style of play, with Iran having the first glimpse at goal in the 12th minute when Vahid Amiri sent a cross into the box but Sardar Azmoun’s header was just off the mark.

Iran had the bigger share of the ball but failed to translate their possession into goals, with their attempts hardly troubling Iraqi goalkeeper Jalal Hassan Hachim and his defenders.

Three minutes from the half-time whistle, Jahanbakhsh could have broken the deadlock after latching on to Azmoun’s deflected attempt but couldn’t get his left-footed strike on target.

Iraq started the second half aggressively as they saw more possession and also continued to deny Iran with resilient defending.

Iran, in a bid to break down the Iraq defence, boosted their attacking prowess by bringing on Mehdi Taremi and Mahdi Torabi in the 63rd and 75th minutes respectively.

However, it was Iraq who nearly took the lead in the 77th minute when substitute Mohanad Ali Khadi’s header forced the best out of Iranian custodian Alireza Beiranvand, who tipped the ball over.

As the minutes ticked away, neither team was able to make headway as they settled for a share of the spoils.


Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE

Your Ultimate Guide to Socceroos v Syria

Resultado de imagem para aUSTRALIA  Syria

The Socceroos have destiny in their own hands as they head into their final Group B clash at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™, taking on Syria early on Wednesday morning (AEDT). 

A draw is all Graham Arnold’s men need at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium to ensure progression to the last 16 but you can be sure they will go all-out for victory to build on Friday’s excellent win over Palestine.

Syria has yet to find the net in their opening two matches but are still very much alive in the tournament, setting up a mouth-watering clash in Al Ain.

Build up

Building on Friday’s impressive win and performance against Palestine will be high on the agenda for the Socceroos.

There was a real rhythm to Australia’s display in their last outing, and it will now be about consistency and not letting the momentum drop ahead of the knockout stage.

That’s been the theme coming out of the camp in the lead-up to Syria, with players and coaches alike all demanding the same standards for the final group match.

The good news for Arnold is that belief is now sky-high in the camp with every player keen to grasp the opportunity in front of them.

It’s going to be a big 90 minutes ahead for the side, with a win or draw needed for the Socceroos to seal their progression to the Round of 16.

The Socceroos celebrate a goal against Palestine.

Squad news

Arnold will be forced into at least one change from the side that defeated Palestine, with defender Trent Sainsbury suspended due receiving a yellow card in each of the opening two games.

Matt Jurman or skipper Mark Milligan – who has been deployed in midfield in the first two games – are the two options to partner Milos Degenek in the heart of defence.

Apart from that, the Socceroos boss has a squad that is in-form and confident.

Strikers Jamie Maclaren and Apostolos Giannou are both buoyant after scoring against Palestine, while there’s a stack of options in attack with the likes of Awer Mabil, Chris Ikonomidis, Robbie Kruse, Andrew Nabbout, Jackson Irvine and Tom Rogic all vying for starting spots.

Mathew Leckie and Josh Risdon are making good progress in their respective recoveries from injury, but Arnold may look to deploy them in the knockout phase rather than the final game of Group B.

Current AFC rankings

Australia: 2

Syria: 6

What they said

Striker Apostolos Giannou

“Everyone was very happy with the performance [against Palestine], with the win and that everything we had been working on came off,” the centre-forward said.

“Now we just look forward to the next game, concentrating on that. It’s a very important game for us.

“We want to perform, we want to score a lot of goals, and we want to win so we can be in the next round.”

Assistant Coach Rene Meulensteen

“We want to carry on and look at ourselves critically and again make sure that we take out the good parts and share that with the players and also the things that we can improve upon,” he continued.

“It’s basically all about us, we make sure that we get the right 11 players on the pitch which we expect they’re going to be very good in dealing with that game.”

How to watch

Tune into FOX SPORTS 505 at 12.30am AEDT on Wednesday morning to watch all the action live.

You can also follow updates from the crunch clash with Palestine and keep up to date with all the latest news and information from the Socceroos at and by following @Socceroos on Twitter.



Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE

#AFCAsianCup2019 Preview – Group E: Yemen v Iraq


Sharjah: Iraq head coach Srecko Katanec is not taking anything for granted when the Lions of Mesopotamia face Yemen in Group D of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 at the Sharjah Stadium on Saturday.

Iraq twice trailed in their opener against Vietnam, but produced a late fightback to collect three valuable points in a five-goal thriller at the Zayed Sports City Stadium on Tuesday.

After the win against Vietnam, Katanec believes his team are well prepared to face Yemen.

“Our team is well rested and focused to take on our next opponents,” said Katanec.

“Playing Vietnam was very difficult, but fortunately we came back twice. It’s a very good quality for a team to come back and win the game.”

However, the former Slovenia national team coach has warned his team that Yemen will be tough opponents.

“We know the quality of the Yemen team and they will fight just like how Vietnam did. From the beginning for sure they will be looking to score.

“I spoke to the players and told them to be very careful. Normally we are the better team on paper, but football is strange and we will see how we fare against Yemen.

“Each game is different and I hope we can play like we did in the second half against Vietnam.”

Yemen, on their part, are looking to put their 5-0 defeat to Islamic Republic of Iran behind them with head coach Jan Kocian claiming the team have learned from their mistakes and are aiming for a positive result against Iraq.

“It has just been a few days since our match against Iran. We lost 5-0 and have analysed the match. We want to put this behind us. We made individual mistakes against Iran and we have learned from them,” said Kocian.

Yemen are playing in their first AFC Asian Cup since unification and Kocian said they can play better than how they performed against Iran.

“It’s Yemen’s first time in a big tournament like the AFC Asian Cup and we played the strongest team in our first match. We started very well but it’s not easy to play against a strong team like Iran. I know my team can play better.

“We know how strong the Iraqi team is. They changed their formation from 5-3-2 to 4-3-3 against Vietnam. It shows what a quality side they are.

“We want to play good compact football in defence and use counter-attacks. We want the best for Yemen football and we go into every match with a winning mentality.”


Source :  AFC Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE



#AFCAsianCup2019 Preview – Group E: Lebanon v Saudi Arabia

Lebanon - AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019

Dubai: Lebanon head into their match against Saudi Arabia at the Al Maktoum Stadium on Saturday needing a win to keep their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 hopes alive.

In their group opener against Qatar on Wednesday, Lebanon held their opponents to a goalless first half, but were struck in the second half by goals from Bassam Al Rawi and Almoez Ali.

Sitting third in the group standings behind Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who have three points each, Lebanon head coach Miodrag Radulovic said his team must aim for a win on Saturday.

“I told my players that we have to forget what happened in the last game, and all our focus is for the next game,” said the former Pakhtakor Tashkent coach.

“Saudi Arabia, I respect this team because they are a top level team, a World Cup team even. Players of Saudi Arabia have experience in big competitions like the World Cup and some play in Europe. They’re very organised and have quality in each position.

“It will be a very difficult game for us but I told my players during preparation that to achieve a good result, we need to think positively.”

It’s been 19 years since Lebanon featured in the Continental showpiece, with their first appearance in 2000 as hosts.

While Radolovic admits his charges lack experience, he is confident his players will deliver a dynamic performance against their West Asian rivals.

“Maybe we don’t have experience in such a competition and maybe we lost some concentration and were unlucky against Qatar, but now I hope it will be totally different from the start. I hope tomorrow we will be serious and disciplined from the first minute to the end of the game.

“It will be difficult but everything is possible. I repeat, I respect Saudi Arabia but I respect my team, and I believe in the character and quality of my players. There’s still two games, everything is open, we are going game-by-game.”

Saudi Arabia Juan Antonio Pizzi head coach said his team are geared up for the match.

“We are ready to play the game tomorrow.

“We hope we implement exactly what we have planned. Trusting in our capabilities, we hope to impose our style of play tomorrow.

“We achieved a good result against DPR Korea, and we hope we will continue with the same level of performance in the next game.”

“I already mentioned in the beginning that all the games and opponents are difficult, there is no such thing as an easy game or opponent. Each team have their own strategy, tactics and strengths, and I think Lebanon are prepared to face us as a team.

“We have seen a few games of the Lebanese team, especially their first game of the tournament against Qatar, and the only way to beat them tomorrow is to put in maximum effort against them.”


Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation Website