Asian Cup: Australia up and running in Group B

By Sports Desk January 13, 2024

Australia are up and running in the Asian Cup after second-half goals from Jackson Irvine and Jordan Bos broke India's resistance and secured a 2-0 win.

The 2015 champions are out to reclaim the title in Qatar and were given an early test against a stubborn opponent and a raucous crowd at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Australia dominated the Group B match, but struggled to find a way through India's determined defence until goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu failed to claim a high cross from Martin Boyle five minutes after the break and Irvine pounced to fire home from close range.

Bos, a substitute, had only been on the field for a minute when he converted Riley McGree's low cross at the far post to double the lead in the 73rd.

"We can improve on everything and the boys know that," Australia coach Graham Arnold said. "We have our standards and I have high expectations of the players and their performances and those expectations and standards need to be met."

The match was the first in the history of the Asian Cup to be officiated by a female referee, with Japan's Yoshimi Yamashita in charge.

Australia are two points clear at the top of Group B thanks to a 0-0 draw between Uzbekistan and Syria.

Uzbekistan are hoping to be the main challenger to Australia, but they failed to make their pressure count at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.

Syria looked to have taken the lead in the second half through Ibrahim Hesar, only for the goal to be ruled offside.

In Saturday's early match, Tajikistan, making their Asian Cup debut, held China to a 0-0 draw in Group A.

Alisher Dzhalilov came close to putting Tajikistan ahead in the first half, while China's Liu Binbin had a shot cleared off the line after the break and Zhu Chenjie saw a goal ruled out by VAR.

Reigning champions Qatar top Group A after a 3-0 win over Lebanon on Friday.

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