AFC Asian Cup 2019: Group B Preview - Australia, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine
The 2019 AFC Asian Cup is less than a week away and champions Australia will be eager to get their title-defense off to a fine start on January 6. But before we get ahead, let’s take a look at what awaits us in Group B.
The defending champions are in for their fourth Asian Cup since making the switch to AFC in 2007. Undoubtedly one of the best sides in the continental tournament, not many would dare to bet against Australia not defending their crown in Abu Dhabi on February 1.
Though they had a disappointing FIFA World Cup that saw them crash out in the group stages after losses to eventual champions France, Peru and a draw against Denmark, the team seems to have regrouped well just in time for the Asian Cup.
With Graham Arnold taking over as the head coach post that World Cup debacle, the Socceroos have notched up victories over Kuwait, Lebanon, and Oman while playing out a 1-1 draw against a formidable South Korea.
And with a number of their main men plying their trade in the European leagues, Australia will once again be a force to reckon with at the Asian Cup despite losing the experienced Aaron Mooy to an injury.
Key players: Mathew Leckie, Mathew Ryan
A team that has always carried a feel-good factor with it, Syria will surely be the side neutrals will be rooting for at the Asian Cup. Well, it’s not just restricted to the team overcoming testing conditions back home to script a footballing fairytale, but also because of the quality they display on the pitch.
Having come agonizingly close to sealing their place at the FIFA World Cup, the Syrians will be cautious to avoid any slip-ups as they look to progress further from the group stages for the first time in what will be their sixth attempt.
Coached by German, Bernd Stange, the Syrians have a team that can give any side in the competition a run for their money on any given day. Led by the reigning AFC Player of the Year Omar Khirbin, the Syrians are a physical unit that tends to take on their opponents and outmuscle them.
They come to UAE on the back of topsy-turvy form having won just three of their nine friendlies this year.
Key players: Omar Khirbin, Mahmoud Al Mawas
For all the fans of Indian football, the friendly between India and Jordan should have given the glimpse of how Jordan will like to set up against their opposition at the Asian Cup.
Coached by Belgian, Vital Borkelmans, the Jordanian side likes to enjoy the lion’s share of possession and when they don’t have the ball, sit deep and defend in numbers. And helping them do this will the experience of Tareq Khattab and Anas Bani Yaseen.
But having said that, if recent form is anything to go by, the team looks in serious trouble. Since assuring themselves a place in the Asian Cup early this year, Jordan has managed just two wins in their 10 friendly games and have also lost to the likes of Lebanon, Qatar, and Kyrgyzstan in the meanwhile.
Key players: Musa Al-Taamari, Amer Shafi
Another of the teams that tend to bring out the feel-good factor in every football fan. For a team that has seen the worst of days, Palestine seems to be a testament to never giving up. Having made their Asian Cup debut at the 2015 edition, Palestine will be hoping to improve on their performance in UAE this time.
Coached by Noureddine Ould Ali, the team has been in impressive form of late with quality performances against Iran and China, matches that ended in draws.
Key players: Abdelatif Bahdari, Yashir Islame