Sunday 18 March 2018

Cahill injury big worry for Aussies

Barbara Surk

Australia and South Korea reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup yesterday, both winning their final Group C matches to advance.

The Aussies, who lost to Japan on penalties in the last eight in 2007, beat Bahrain 1-0 in driving rain at Al-Sadd Stadium to finish top of the group on goal difference. Mile Jedinak scored his second international goal with a half-volley in the 37th minute.

However, the match ended on a worrying note for the Socceroos when star man Tim Cahill limped off in added time after being injured in a midfield challenge.

Manager Holger Osieck said Cahill was in pain after being kneed in the thigh, but said the player he was being treated and would not miss the quarter-final.

"I can guarantee it will be a good game and a better performance. You will see a different Australian team," Osieck said.

Cahill was more cautious about the injury, saying: "I'll find out tonight, but I honestly don't know at the moment. I took a few knocks and, hopefully, I'll pull through."

South Korea moved into the knockout round by beating India 4-1. Ji Dong-won scored two goals, and Koo Ja-cheol and Son Heung-min added the others. Koo also set up two goals.

India replied with a penalty converted by Sunil Chhetri.

The match began in lashing rain and the goals poured in, too. However, South Korea's coach was still disappointed that his side did not score more.

"We failed to convert a lot of chances, but I am pleased with the attitude of the players," said Cho Kwang-rae, whose team play Iran in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

"Iran is one of the powerhouses of Asian football and, in order to win the tournament, we have to beat them. That's it."

Osieck said his side had a tough time beating Bahrain, but added that the victory would boost confidence ahead of Saturday's quarter-final against the second-placed team in Group D. Iraq, North Korea and the United Arab Emirates have a chance to win the spot.

"Bahrain gave a strong performance and at times gave us a really hard time," Osieck said. "We had to fight until the very end."

However, he was clearly satisfied with the outcome, saying: "We got three points and we are top of the group which is positive for the next games. I am happy we reached our target, which was reaching the quarter-finals."

But Bahrain threatened with some neat interchanges in the early stages, while chances fell at the other end to Cahill, Harry Kewell and Ismaeel Abdulatif, who hit the post with an angled shot in the 31st minute.

Jedinak, who scored his first international goal in the draw against South Korea on Friday, rifled home the winner in the 37th minute.

Bahrain, needing a win to stay in the tournament, kept Australia on the back foot for most of the second half at the Al-Sadd Stadium, but couldn't get past goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. As full-time approached, Bahrain's attacks finally petered out, with Australia happy to sit back on their lead.

South Korea scored twice within the first nine minutes, Ji finding the net in the sixth and Koo Ja-cheol doubling the lead three minutes later. India pulled one back through Chhetri's penalty in the 12th, before Ji restored South Korea's two-goal lead in the 23rd.

Substitute Son scored in the 81st after South Korea had wasted a host of chances in the second half.

India finished the tournament with three losses from three games, having conceded 13 goals. "We got through it, we are richer for the experience and we learned a lot from it," India coach Bob Houghton said.

Irish Independent

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