Qantas Under 23's smash Togo 4-0
The Qantas Under 23’s have finished the group phase of the Intercontinental Cup unbeaten, after an emphatic 4-0 win over Togo in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Australia topped Group B and will play in the semi finals on Friday.
The Qantas Under 23-s have finished the group phase of the Intercontinental Cup unbeaten, after an emphatic 4-0 win over Togo in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Jason Hoffman got Australia off to the perfect start with a goal after just seven minutes and looked in total control when Aaron Downes made it 2-0 just before the break. Togo then had a player sent off on the hour, with Australia piling on the pressure and adding further goals to Michael Zullo and Matt Simon made it 4-0.
The match however ended in unfortunate circumstances, when Togo had another player sent off with 15 minutes remaining and subsequently another three players went off injured, which meant the referee had to abandon the match.
But that should not diminish from what was a very good performance by the Australian team, which dominated throughout and went onto finish Group B on nine points, three ahead of Chile, who beat Croatia in the other group match 1-0, to decide second place.
Australia-s opponent in the semi finals on Friday will not be known until tomorrow, as Nigeria and Iraq will play their postponed game from the opening round. Group A is very tight, with Nigeria just needing a draw to qualify in top spot, while an Iraq win would leave all four teams on 4 points and the semi finalists decided by goal difference. At this stage that looks like Ireland, unless Iraq win by more than two goals over Nigeria.
It was the perfect start by Australia, when a long throw by returning captain Mark Milligan into penalty box, was headed by Simon onto crossbar and Hoffman was quickest to react and he headed home for his first goal for Australia.
The match evened out a little after that, although Australia carved out a few more chances and they finally put some breathing space between them just three minutes before the break. A corner by Dario Vidosic saw Chesterfield defender Downes make it 2-0.
Any chance of a Togo comeback was laid to rest after 60 minutes when they were reduced to ten men and five minutes later Queensland Roar-s Zullo received a neat flick on from Simon; went past two defenders and he finished neatly past the Togo keeper.
Simon continued his impressive form, with his second goal of the tournament, five minutes later when he impressively cut in from wide out and then squeezed his well hit shot inside the near post.
But the match then turned farcical when a second Togo player was sent off and then over the next eight minutes they proceeded to take more players off injured, leaving the referee with little choice but to stop the game early.
Coach Graham Arnold was quick to praise the team for another good performance against an unpredictable style of play presented by the Africans.
“This was our third match in a row where we faced a different style of play and again we adapted well and came away a good win,” he said.
“This is exactly the preparation we need and the players are coping well with the conditions and I am looking forward to the semi finals.”
Australia 4 (Jason Hoffman 7-, Aaron Downes 42-, Michael Zullo 65-, Matt Simon 70-) Togo 0
Australian line-up: Dean Bouzanis (gk), Tarek Elrich, Mark Milligan, Aaron Downes, Trent McClenahan, Stuart Musialik, Adam D'Apuzzo, Michael Zullo, Matt Simon, Dario Vidosic, Jason Hoffman. Subs: Leijer, Zadkovich, Boogaard, Rukavytsya, Velaphi Inj: Hearfield Suspended: Dilevski
Cautions: Hoffman (32-)