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Socceroos top Group C

The Socceroos have secured a place in the Quarter Finals of the Asian Cup after defeating Bahrain 1-0 in their final group match.

A win or a draw was all that was needed to see Australia through the group stage, and a long-range 37′ strike from Mile Jedinak was enough to separate the two sides.

Australia’s opponents in the next round are likely to be Iraq, setting up a very exciting clash. Things are not set in stone however. While Iran (currently top of Group D) are guaranteed to go through, the second spot in Group D is there for the taking, with the UAE and DPR Korea still mathematical chances.

In the other Group C game, South Korea sent India packing, notching a 4-1 victory against the lowest ranked side in the tournament. Things were looking easy for the Taegeuk Warriors, with goals at 6′ and 9′. Minutes later, India struck back with a penalty through Chhetri, but were no match for a South Korean side expected to go far in this tournament.

Adrian Considers: Hah! The man I didn’t think much of in my article on the Socceroos squad has proven me wrong. Jedinak has been the lone scorer in our last two games, giving us both the draw and the win. I’m very impressed, and in this case quite happy that I got it wrong.

Good to see Australia top the group. By doing so and placing ourselves on this side of the draw, we would play Japan in the Semi-Finals as opposed to the Final, assuming both sides made it through. While much was said about wanting to avoid The Blue Samurai for as long as possible, if we’re going to win the tournament, we have to play them eventually, so I don’t see it as much of an issue. Winning the group must fill the squad with confidence, and the mental side here cannot be ignored.

I thought the replacements for the injured players were solid. I’ve always been a fan of Valeri, and he played well I thought, much like he did when he came on at half time for Culina in the South Korea game. His partnership with Jedinak in the centre of midfield could be a crucial one in the next 5 or so years. Jade North went alright at right fullback, didn’t do anything spectacular but did his job. Matt McKay on the left of defence I thought did very well considering the circumstances. Despite not being a defender, and facing Bahrain’s most potent attack down that side, he seemed to grow into the role as the match progressed, which is a promising sign.

Schwarzer was outstanding. He’s usually very reliable, and in this game against Bahrain, he showed true class.

Finally, Cahill and Kewell seemed to be a bit off. Not sure why, but there was something missing for both of them, and at times, their touches weren’t what we’ve come to expect from both. Hopefully this can be addressed for the next game, and I’m sure it will be, as they’re both champion players.

Bring on the Quarter Finals!

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