Asia's big guns land in quarters
Australia and Korea Republic advanced to the quarter-finals of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar, and while it was the former who narrowly topped the group, the Socceroos were made to work much harder on the night. The Aussies were forced to battle until the final whistle by a typically resolute Bahrain, who succumbed only to a lone first-half goal. Australia will now face either Iraq, Korea DPR or United Arab Emirates in the last eight.
South Korea needed just a point against India to ensure their passage, and that was never in doubt following early goals and an eventual 4-1 final scoreline - a result that sets up a potentially epic quarter-final meeting with Iran.
Korea Republic 4-1 India, Al Gharrafa Stadium, Doha
Ji Dong-Won 6’, 23’, Koo Ja-Cheol 9’, Son Heung-Min 81’ (Korea Republic); Sunil Chhetri 12’ pen (India)
Korea Republic knew they needed a hefty victory if they were to top the group and a 3-1 margin by the midway point of the first half had the Taeguk Warriors well on their way. However, on a sodden pitch - rain made a rare appearance in Doha on a chilly evening - the Koreans were only able to breach the goal of the impressive Subrata Paul on one more occasion. Amid the early goal flurry, India’s Sunil Chhetri scored from the penalty spot, with the Kansas City Wizards striker appearing on the scoresheet in consecutive matches.
Australia 1-0 Bahrain, Al Sadd Stadium, Doha
Mile Jedinak 37’
Bahrain made Australia work hard to earn their victory and the Gulf nation enjoyed early possession with Ismaeel Abdullatif, the four-goal hero against India, striking the near post from the most acute of angles. However Mile Jedinak scored eight minutes before the interval with a low long-range drive in what was a devastating blow to a Bahraini side which needed all three points to progress. Both teams had their moments in attack during a stop-start second period, but the Socceroos did enough to win the group.
Ji Dong-Won, Korea Republic
Korea Republic’s teenage attacking prodigy grabbed a first-half brace to set his side on their way to victory.
20 – The number of matches Australia’s Mile Jedinak took to score his first international goal. Following his equaliser against Korea Republic, the Turkish-based midfielder has now bagged crucial goals in successive games.
Deja vu for Roos
Australia’s win over Bahrain to top the group was achieved at the same Al Sadd venue in Doha where the Socceroos secured qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
India may have been the lowest ranked team participating in the 16-team tournament, but Sunil Chhetri’s successful penalty conversion ensured they concluded the tournament with more goals than west Asian giants Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. They also lead Iraq, Korea DPR and United Arab Emirates, who are yet to complete their group fixtures.
Australia veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has a little extra incentive to help his team into their first AFC Asian Cup final. Tonight’s match marked his 85th contest in the green and gold, one more than long-serving skipper Paul Wade, while three more caps will mean going top of the Socceroo appearance list ahead of Alex Tobin.
What they said
"We failed to convert a lot of chances, but I am pleased with the attitude of the players. They took the game very seriously. Iran is one of the powerhouses of Asian football and, in order to win the tournament, we have to beat them. That's it,” Korea Republic coach Cho Kwang-Rae.
“We have to be more clinical in front of goal. We did it against Korea Republic and we did it again today. We really had to fight to the very end. It’s good to be top of the group, but I keep saying whoever we play from the other group is a good team and will be very tough,” Australia coach Holger Osieck.