Tournament favourites and defending champions Australia get their AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaign underway against dark horses Jordan tonight.
The Socceroos will have to find a way to fill the void left by the retirements of stalwarts Mile Jedinak and Tim Cahill, a task made more complex by the injury to Aaron Mooy.
They are coming off the back of a rather disappointing World Cup campaign in which they managed just a single point, and will look to erase those painful memories with a commanding performance first up against Jordan.
Jordan, on the other hand, have nothing to lose, and will look to make their fourth appearance in Asia’s premier competition a memorable one.
On that note, FOX Sports Asia takes a quick look at five key facts between the two teams ahead of their all-important clash:
1. First Asian Cup meeting between the two sides
Australia and Jordan have squared off against one another four times in the past, with all of the four meetings coming in World Cup qualifiers. Rather surprisingly, Jordan have held their own against their much-fancied opponents, with the head-to-head between the two sides level at 2-2.
This will be their first meeting in the Asian Cup though.
2. Australia’s stellar Asian Cup record
Australia joined the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) way back in 2006 and since then, have qualified for every single edition of the Asian Cup (4 out of 4).
They have also never been eliminated in the group stages, with their worst finish coming in 2007 when they were bounced out in the quarterfinals.
The Socceroos reached the final of the two previous editions, losing to Japan in 2011 before defeating Korea Republic last time around to lift the trophy.
3. Australia boast the best win-loss ratio in Asian Cup
Among teams that have played a minimum of 15 matches in the competition, Australia possess the best win-loss ratio of 62.5 per cent. They have won 10 of their 16 games in the Asian Cup till date, with three losses and three draws the only blots on an otherwise impressive record.
4. Contrasting defensive records
Australia’s defence is definitely their strength. The Socceroos have conceded just six goals in their last 14 Asian Cup games, a feat made all the more astonishing when you take into account the fact that they have never conceded more than a single goal in a match.
Jordan, meanwhile, started off brightly, keeping three consecutive clean sheets before tailing off badly and managing just one in their next eight matches.
5. Jordan looking to rewrite the history books
Jordan’s best finish till date is a quarterfinal showing back in 2004 and 2011. Last time around, in 2015, they crashed out in the group stages, which makes the current campaign all the more important.
2019 will be Jordan’s fourth Asian Cup stint, and they will look to make history with a strong showing, although a semifinal berth seems quite improbable.