What a story this is!
The Olyroos have booked a semi-final berth at the Intercontinental Cup in Malaysia with a 2-1 win over Chile in their second group match despite losing defender Spase Dilevski to a send-off.
Goals to Matt Simon and Ruben Zadkovich, who headed the winner on the hour, were enough for Australia’s under 23s to post their second win in two games at the tournament – a lead-up to the Beijing Olympics.
The Olyroos played the final 15 minutes in Kuala Lumpur a man down after Dilevski was sent off after 75 minutes for a second bookable offence.
Olyroos coach Graham Arnold said he was thrilled with the courage shown by his players to hold on after Dilevski’s send-off.
“To come away with a win after having to play with only 10 men for the last 15 minutes showed that the character of the players tonight was first class,” he said.
“This was a great test for us playing a South American team.
“We haven’t played this type of opposition during the past two years and they were a good team.”
Australia will find the experience against South American opposition invaluable, as defending champions Argentina are in their Olympic Games group.
The Olyroos now play Togo in their final Intercontinental Cup group match tomorrow night, but will qualify for the next stage regardless of the result.
Skipper Mark Milligan, who had been serving a two-match ban for being late to a training camp prior to the tournament, is available for selection against Togo.
But Mark Bridge, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, James Troisi and James Holland have returned to Australia to join the Socceroos ahead of the senior national side’s clash with Ghana in Sydney on Friday night.
German-based striker Dario Vidosic has joined the Olyroos in Malaysia at cover.