15 January 2019
One step away from securing the passage to the AFC Asian Cup knockout stage, Australia will take on a vulnerable Syria side at the Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium in Al Ain.
Although the Socceroos failed to impress on the opening matchday, suffering a narrow 1-0 loss to Jordan, they’ve managed to rise in the next round and clinch a convincing 3-0 win over Palestine. All Graham Arnold’s men now have to do is avoid failure against the team whom they eliminated in the FIFA 2018 World Cup playoffs 15 months ago. After suffering an early World Cup elimination, Australia have secured three victories in four friendlies, having been held to just one draw in the process. In that period, the Socceroos have bagged 13 goals and conceded barely one, scoring over 2.5 goals per match three times in the run. Australia tend to kill the game off already in the first half as they’ve scored over 1.5 goals before the half-time break four times in their last six meetings.
Meanwhile, the Assyrians still have the chance to go past the group stage as one of the best third-placed teams in spite of their poor displays in the opening two games. Not only Syria failed to wrap up all three points so far, but they are also one of six teams that are yet to find the net. After playing out a goalless draw with Palestine in their tournament opener, Fajr Ibrahim’s players have lost 2-0 to Jordan although they’ve been the ones to dominate possession and create chances for the majority of the encounter. Syria’s difficulties in the final third have seen them score over 1.5 goals per match only once in their last ten meetings. Although they’ve managed to keep a clean sheet just twice in their previous 22 outings, Syria’s stubborn backline has allowed over 1.5 goals per match only five times in that period.
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