2020 AFC U23 Championship: Australia book quarters berth after holding off Bahrain

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Australia have qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2020 AFC U23 Championship after finishing top of Group A with a 1-1 draw against Bahrain at the Thammasat Stadium on Tuesday.

With just three points separating all four teams in Group A after the opening two games, Australia entered the contest knowing their place in the knockout round was far from secure despite their position at the summit.

And they showed they were certainly focused on the task at hand, taking the lead in the 34th minute when a lovely slide-rule pass by Reno Piscopo picked out the clever run of Ramy Najjarine, who got in behind the opposition defence and made no mistake finishing past Ammar Mohamed.

Right on the stroke of halftime, Bahrain issued a response when Mohamed Marhoon lined up a freekick on the edge of the area and expertly curled an effort around the wall and caught Glover off guard as the ball nestled into the back of the net.

Remarkably, Bahrain showed plenty of endeavour in the second half and gave the Olyroos a fair share of problems, and they will probably be aggrieved that they were not awarded a penalty late on when Marhoon looked to have been clipped from behind by Keanu Baccus in the area, only for both the referee and VAR to be unmoved by their appeals.

In the end, Australia were able to see out the remainder of the contest and claim the point that seals their place at the top of Group A, as well as a quarter-final meeting with whoever finishes second in Group B on Wednesday.

AFC U23 Championship Highlights – Australia vs Bahrain

AUSTRALIA: Thomas Glover, Gabriel Cleur, Tass Mourdoukoutas, Dylan Ryan, Alex Gersbach, Ramy Najjarine (Jacob Italiano 79’), Keanu Baccus, Zach Duncan (Aiden O’Neill 79’), Reno Piscopo, Daniel Bouman (Nicholas D’Agostino 60’), Al Hassan Toure.

BAHRAIN: Ammar Mohamed, Ahmed Bughammar (Ahmed Al-Zaimoor 46’), Hamad Al-Shamsan, Sayed Ameen, Hasan Al-Karrani, Abbas Al-Asfoor, Ahmed Saleh (Sayed Hashim Isa 64’), Abdulrahman Ahmed (Mohammed Al-Hardan 76’), Jasim Khelaif, Hasan Madan, Mohamed Marhoon.