In the recent Socceroos campaigns in Russia and the UAE, it has become quite apparent the playing squad needs a serious shakeup, based around exciting young players at its core.
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Australia will face Uzbekistan in the Asian Cup round of 16 after Japan defeated the Uzbeks in Al Ain on Thursday.
Needing a win to top Group F and avoid a knockout clash with the Socceroos in the same city on Monday, four-time Asian champions Japan came from behind to beat Uzbekistan 2-1 at the Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium.
Japanese coach Hajime Moriyasu had promised changes to his team and didn’t disappoint, making 10 alterations from the line-up that beat Oman 1-0 last week.
Uzbekistan also rotated heavily, with coach Hector Cuper making five changes to his team that beat Turkmenistan.
Cuper’s men took the lead in the 40th minute when Eldor Shomurodov ran through the Japanese defence and deftly chipped the ball past goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt for his fourth goal of the tournament.
The Uzbeks’ lead only lasted a matter of minutes however when English Premier League player Yoshinori Muto rose inside the box to head home a cross by fullback Sei Muroya.
A stunning strike from outside the area by Tsukasa Shiotani in the 58th minute put Japan ahead and they held on for the three points despite a late Uzbek rally.
Australia and Uzbekistan met in the semi-final of the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar, with the Socceroos claiming a 6-0 win in that clash.
The two nations have met three times before with Australia emerging victorious in all three matches, without conceding a goal.
Monday’s game will also be played at the Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain from 6pm (0100 Tues AEDT).
AFC Asian Cup 2019: Round of 16 fixtures
Jordan v Vietnam
Thailand v China
Iran v Oman
Japan v Saudi Arabia
Australia v Uzbekistan
UAE v Kyrgyzstan
South Korea v Bahrain
Qatar v Iraq