At the end of the group stage, it still isn’t clear whether Australia is still on form to defend the Asian Cup. After losing to Jordan and an easy win against Palestine, the Socceroos came to the last match as the only title contender that didn't already booked their place in the round of 16.
Australia scored first, when Awer Mabil scored his second goal in the tournament, but conceded an equalizer in two minutes by Omar Khribin. Chris Ikonomidis gave the lead back to Australia during the second half and Australia felt more comfortable with their lead.
The last minutes were dramatic. Omar Al-Somah converted a penalty successfully and Australia has been in an unstable situation. A single Palestinian goal could drop them to the third place, even though four points were enough to secure their qualification. The winning goal by Tom Rogic during additional time was the final mark for the second Australia win in this Asian Cup.
Now Australia needs to think whether they are good enough to win the title. They didn't play with an impressive style and it seems that Graham Arnold leads his team to more disciplined tactics. Even if Australia are clear favorites, they don't look to do more than scoring one goal more than their opponents. Australia played calmly and didn't try to really aim further while they led. However, they were completely dominant when the score was level.
Moreover, Australia had problems in the defensive line. Syria scored two goals tonight, one of them by a penalty kick, but they could score much more than that. Matt Ryan saved his team more than once, but the defenders didn’t help him too much. They failed to mark the Syrian attackers several times and some of the shots just deflected once again to Al-Soma and Khribin instead of being blocked or cleared.
At the next round, Australia will face Group F runner-ups, which mean that their next opponents will be Japan or Uzbekistan. If they failed to perform well against Jordan and Syria, what they can do against better teams?