Uncategorized

Asian Cup 2019: Ritsu Doan and Fahad Al Muwallad star in Japan v Saudi Arabia key battles

Australia have been boosted by the return of Mathew Leckie for their Asian Cup round-of-16 clash with Uzbekistan on Monday.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has confirmed the Hertha Berlin winger will be available to make the bench in Al Ain.

“The wonderful thing is Mathew Leckie is back and he will be on the bench,” Arnold told reporters as quoted by the AFC’s official website.

Leckie was a key member of the Australian side that won the Asian Cup on home soil in 2015, but is yet to feature in this edition of the competition having joined up with the squad while nursing a hamstring injury.

“It’s like signing a new player halfway through a tournament. We planned when he got injured at Hertha Berlin that we needed to look at how the injury would come along,” Arnold said.

“We were patient with that and our medical staff have done a great job getting him ready.”

Along with the 27-year-old, the defending champions will also welcome back Josh Risdon from injury while Trent Sainsbury returns from suspension.

Meanwhile, Uzbekistan coach Hector Cuper is confident his team can bounce back from their 2-1 defeat to Japan in their final group game.

“We know the importance of tomorrow’s game,” he said. “It’s the knockout stage, so we have no room to make errors. We will come to the pitch to win, but at the same time we realise Australia are a tough rival and one of the best teams in Asia.”

“We have tried to improve on all of our mistakes and we have tried to analyse the Australia side. Based on their advantages, we will make some changes but it doesn’t mean we’re going to change the system or style of our game.”