Golden opportunity slips for Qantas Under 23's
The Qantas Under 23’s has spoilt a golden opportunity to put themselves in pole position to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, after being held to a 0-0 draw by Lebanon.
The Qantas Under 23-s has spoilt a golden opportunity to put themselves in pole position to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, after being held to a 0-0 draw by Lebanon.
With its main rival for the one and only position to qualify from their group for the finals next year, Iraq, drawing 0-0 away with DPR Korea, the Under 23-s could have moved two points ahead with a win over Lebanon at the Beirut Municipal Stadium in Beirut.
However, despite dominating possession for most of the match, Australia simply couldn-t beat Lebanese keeper Hassan Moghnieh, who made two outstanding saves either side of half time, but in general lacked an attacking spark during the match.
Australia must now beat Iraq at Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on November 17 to have any chance of qualifying, given that Iraq is three goals ahead on goal difference, with both teams locked on eight points.
Like in their previous encounter in Gosford last month an early goal was a key, but Moghnieh denied Nick Ward a 7th minute opener, pushing away his header and Kristian Sarkies not able to direct the rebound goalward.
After a near miss by Lebanon in a rare attack at goal, Bridge should have scored in the 27th minute, when he was presented with an open header 7 yards out from goal. Bridge went for placement instead of power and Moghnieh produced a marvelous diving save to keep the effort out.
Newcastle United striker James Troisi then had another golden chance in the first half, when he played a terrific one-two with Bridge on the edge of the area, but with only the keeper to beat, scuffed his shot wide of the near post.
It was a more determined Australian team after the break with Bridge again denied by Moghnieh with an excellent save.
Bridge-s Newcastle Jets teammate Adam D-Apuzzo, called in late to replace his fellow Jets midfielder Stuart Musialik in the starting side, then came to the rescue when he desperately blocked a shot from dangerous Lebanon striker Akram Moghrabi, when he looked likely to score.
Desperately looking for a win to go clear at the top, Australia did most of the attacking, but continually sent shots and headers wide of the goal, with a Bridge drive from the edge of the box, deflected just wide of the goal, deep in injury time.
That result means a draw or loss against Iraq in Gosford, will effectively end any hope of Australia qualifying, given they are already behind three goals on difference.
That match is being played on Saturday November 17 with tickets for the match already selling well. Tickets can be purchased from ticketek.com.au
Lebanon 0 Australia 0
Australian line-up: Danny Vukovic (gk); Ruben Zadkovich, Adrian Leijer, Mark Milligan, Kristian Sarkies, Mark Bridge, Nathan Burns (David Williams 57-), Nick Ward, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Adam D-Apuzzo (Billy Celeski 78-), James Troisi (Jordan Simpson 84-) Subs not used: Trent McClenahan, Nigel Boogaard, Tando Velaphi (gk) Unavailable: Stuart Musialik
Cautions: Nil Expulsions: Nil