Australia’s U23 men’s national football team sealed a berth at next year’s AFC U23 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan on Friday (local time), defeating Indonesia 1-0 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan to finish on top of the Group G qualification standings.
After defeating Indonesia 3-2 on Tuesday, a second win at the Central Republican Stadium ensured that Australia’s U23s claimed a 4-2 aggregate victory and with it an entry to next year’s Finals Tournament to be held in June.
Sydney FC striker Patrick Wood was on target for Australia on matchday one and he scored his second goal of the green and gold’s qualification campaign with a neat finish from six yards just ten minutes into the contest.
After the Indonesian defence failed to clear a dangerous free kick into the area from the boot of Brentford B attacker Lachlan Brook, Wood clinically swept the ball home from six yards to claim what would prove to be the only goal of the game.
The young Australians had chances to extend their advantage throughout the first 45, however interventions from the Indonesian backline, as well as goalkeeper Ernando, kept the score at 1-0 at the break.
In the second stanza Wood fired wide just after hour mark after being set up by his club teammate Callum Talbot, while Borussia Monchengladbach II attacker Jacob Italiano had two efforts denied in quick succession with just under 20 minutes to play.
Interim Australia U23s Head Coach Trevor Morgan made several substitutions as the clock wound down, and while Indonesia made some late raids as they sought to keep their bid to reach Uzbekistan alive, Australia defended its lead to successfully secure a ticket to Tashkent.
Morgan said the group could take plenty of positives away from their time together in Tajikistan.
“These experiences are vital for Australian players,” Morgan said. “There were a lot of positives to take away from this camp, particularly qualification for an AFC U23 Asian Cup which means this age group will get to experience international tournament football next year.”
“There were many times throughout the two matches where the players produced the level of football that we expect to see – they played positive football, controlled the games, and found opportunities to score. I'm sure the boys know that to go to another level both individually and as a team, they need to reproduce those moments more consistently.
“We intentionally brought a younger group to these qualifiers, with the core of the squad age eligible to represent Australia at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. That they have now experienced meaningful matches at a young age will help them gain valuable experience as they develop towards next year’s AFC U23 Asian Cup, and the ongoing path to Paris,” he said.
Australia U23 1 (Wood 10’)
Indonesia U23 0
Venue: Central Republican Stadium, Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Referee: Khalid Saleh H Alturais (Saudi Arabia)
Australia U23: 2. Callum TALBOT (13. Lewis MILLER 78’), 3. Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS, 4. Marc TOKICH (C), 6. Fabian MONGE (16. Aydan HAMMOND 85’), 7. Lachlan BROOK (15. Taras GOMULKA 89’), 9. Patrick WOOD, 10. Jacob ITALIANO (11. Adisu BAYEW 78’), 14. Lucas MAURAGIS, 17. Alessandro LOPANE, 18. Nicholas SUMAN (Gk), 21. Patrick YAZBEK
Substitutes not used: 1. Kai CALDERBANK-PARK (Gk), 5. Jordan BOS, 8. Luke DUZEL, 12. Adam PAVLESIC (Gk), 19. Thymos CAROUTAS, 20. Luka PRSO, 22. Zaydan BELLO, 23. Matthew SCARCELLA
Yellow cards: Wood, Monge
Red cards: Nil
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