AFC U-23 Championship: Australia cruise past Syria

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Australia got their 2018 AFC U-23 Championship Group D campaign underway on Thursday with a 3-1 win over Syria at the Kunshan Stadium.

The Olyroos opened the scoring after eight minutes when Daniel De Silva raced free down the right and played a neat ball across the leave George Blackwood with a simple tap-in.

Syria came close to equalising just eight minutes later when a right-wing cross from Ahmad Al-Ahmad was met by a firm header by Mohamad Rafat, but Paul Izzo produced a brilliant save to push it onto the bar.

And, just two minutes before halftime, Australia doubled their lead in a sweeping attack as Milislav Popovic found space on the left and hung a cross up at the far post, setting up Bruce Kamau to send a deft header past Khaled Ibrahim’s despairing dive.

To their credit, Syria never lost any spirit and they forced their way back into the contest eight minutes after halftime, when Australia centre-back Thomas Deng – in an attempt to prevent Zakria Hannan’s cross from reach Rafat – could only put the ball into his own goal.

But, in the 77th minute, the Australians went on to seal maximum points when Blackwood was left with another easy finish, meeting Ajdin Hrustic’s low cross and getting just enough on his shot to send it looping over Ibrahim.

AUSTRALIA: Paul Izzo, Nick Cowburn, Thomas Deng, Aleksandar Susnjar, Ben Garuccio, Brandon Wilson, Daniel De Silva, Stefan Mauk, Bruce Kamau (Trent Buhagiar 46’), Milislav Popovic (Ajdin Hrustic 57’), George Blackwood.

SYRIA: Khaled Ibrahim, Yousef Al-Hamwi, Abdullah Jinat, Mohamed Arnaout, Moumen Naji, Mouhamad Anez (Zakria Hannan 46’), Ahmad Ashkar, Ahmad Al-Ahmad, Shadi Al-Hamwi (Hamzah Muhanaeh 78′), Abdalrahman Barakat, Mohamad Rafat.