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 Socceroos at the 2023 Asian Cup: Will They Bounce Or Flop  THE JOURNAL OF SPORT,  LEISURE & RISK  WITH AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE  November 2023

            Fringe players like Awer Mabil, once they         Group C features Iran, who impressed by
            secure more match minutes, could force            beating Wales in the World Cup group
            Arnold into a positive selection headache.        stages, alongside the UAE, Hong Kong,
                                                              and Palestine. Group D is headlined by
            Ajdin Hrustic, with his technical brilliance,     Japan, the team with the most wins in
            could provide some much-needed sparkle in  this competition. They were a standout in
            the team. However, his lack of playing time       the 2022 World Cup, securing surprising
            at his club remains a concern, highlighting       victories against European giants Germany
            the importance of his fitness. Mitchell Duke      and Spain.
            should end up leading the attack.
                                                              South Korea, led by Heung-Min Son, is
            The Socceroos’ journey to the Asian Cup in        expected to advance comfortably from
            2024 is not just about competing; it’s about      Group E, while Saudi Arabia, the only
            redemption and glory. The disappointment          team to beat Argentina at the World Cup,
            of their 2019 campaign, where they failed         tops Group F. That win against Argentina
            to defend their Asian Cup title, still lingers.   provided a silver lining for their early World
            However, their impressive performance             Cup exit and offers momentum for this
            at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar has           tournament.
            rekindled the belief that they can emerge
            victorious on the continent.                      Qatar, with the unique distinction of
                                                              hosting the Asian Cup for the third time,
            Qatar holds happy memories for the                has incorporated their World Cup stadiums
            Socceroos. With this squad, they may be           as venues, making this event even more
            poised to follow in the footsteps of Ange         special. Six of the eight stadiums that
            Postecoglou, who guided them to Asian             hosted 2022 World Cup games will be
 After an unsuccessful tournament   team seems to be settled, with a healthy   Cup glory in 2015.   reused, enhancing the tournament’s
 campaign in 2019, the team is pumped   combination of youth and experience.   grandeur. Jassim al Jassim, COO of the
 up to win it all and relive the glory of their   Mark Schwarzer, a legend of the game,   Who Are They Up Against?  tournament, emphasised the enthusiasm
 2015 championship. The draw for the group  is on record for suggesting changes that   and favourable weather conditions for fans
 stage placed the Socceroos in Group B   revolve around strengthening the defence,   With only a few months remaining until the   attending the competition in January.
 alongside Uzbekistan, Syria, and India. This   particularly placing Aziz Behich at right-  tournament commences, all 24 participating
 looks easy on paper, but group stages can   back. The idea is to maintain a solid   teams have been finalised. As the reigning   On the field, Qatar’s performance in the
 be tricky, and Australia did suffer a few   defensive setup and solidify the team’s   champions after their victory in the 2019   2022 World Cup didn’t meet expectations,
 awkward moments in qualifying. And lest   backline, crucial in a tournament where   edition of the tournament, Qatar is eager to   and they are eager to demonstrate their
 we forget, Australia needed penalties to   every goal can make a difference.  defend their title on home turf in January.  true capabilities. With manager Felix
 squeak past Uzbekistan in 2019.                              Sanchez departing, Carlos Queiroz from
 In the central defence, Schwarzer goes   The group stage draw, held in Doha in   Portugal is taking the helm. As the reigning
 Graham Arnold, the team’s head coach,   on to suggest the possibility of fielding all   May, has set the stage for an intriguing   Asian champions, there is added pressure
 emphasised the advantage of playing   three of the big centre halves – Kye Rowles,   competition. In Group A, the hosts   on Qatar to perform well, and they are
 in Qatar, which has become a “home   Cameron Burgess, and Harry Souttar – to   find themselves alongside China and   determined to make a deep run in the
 away from home” for the squad. Having   create a formidable defensive line.  Lebanon, as well as tournament debutants   tournament, aiming to lift the trophy for a
 previously played against Syria in World   Tajikistan. China, despite never winning the   second consecutive time. The 2023 Asian
 Cup qualifiers and faced Uzbekistan, the   While games are lost in defence, it is in   competition, has been a runner-up twice.   Cup promises to be an exciting spectacle in
 team is well-acquainted with the Qatari   the middle of the park that games are   Their national team is making a comeback   the heart of the Gulf, featuring a dynamic
 surroundings. This can be a mighty asset as  controlled, and ultimately won. Riley   after struggling with the challenges posed   mix of established and emerging football
 they aim to navigate the challenging group.  McGree could be used as an impact   by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tajikistan, on   nations.
 substitute, while players like Craig Goodwin,   the other hand, will make their tournament
 While the squad has only a few games   Jackson Irvine, Keanu Baccus, and Connor   debut, having gained independence just
 left to fine-tune their composition, the   Metcalfe should be given starting berths.   three decades ago.
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