Australia defeats Thailand ahead of AFC U23 Championship

The Australian U23 National Team warmed up for their 2018 AFC U23 Championship Group D opener against Syria U23 with a 2-1 international friendly win over Thailand U23 in Shanghai on Saturday.

Goals from Newcastle Jets utility Nicholas Cowburn and Melbourne City FC midfielder Stefan Mauk helped Ante Milicic’s side secure victory over the tough Thai team ahead of their first match of the tournament in Kunshan, China on Thursday.

Australia U23 started the match the brighter of the two teams and had early opportunities to open the scoring via Ajdin Hrustic and Deni Juric.

In the eighth minute it was Novocastrian Cowburn who volleyed Australia ahead after Aleksandar Susnjar’s header from Ben Garuccio’s corner had crashed against the woodwork.

Thailand threatened in the 20th minute of play, however starting goalkeeper Paul Izzo from Adelaide United wasn’t forced into action as a shot whizzed wide of his goal.

Central Coast Mariners flyer Trent Buhagiar made good progress against his marker on several occasions during the first 45, however Buhagiar couldn’t quite manage to execute the final pass to set up a teammate to double Australia’s lead.

Milicic made five changes to his side at the half time break, bringing on midfielder Mauk, goalkeeper Daniel Nizic, defender Ruon Tongyik, as well as Western Sydney Wanderers pair Keanu Baccus and Jonathan Aspropotamitis.

It didn’t take long for Mauk to make his mark on the match as he put the finishing touch on good work between Buhagiar and Baccus down the right side in the 52nd minute to make the score 2-0 to Australia.

Milicic introduced a further five players to the match on the hour mark as Brandon Wilson, Daniel De Silva, Bruce Kamau, George Blackwood and Jaushua Sotirio all entered the fray.

And while Thailand reduced the arrears in the 70th minute with a snap shot in the box that nestled in the net, some good goalkeeping from Nizic as well as controlled possession play from Australia as the clock wound down ensured that Milicic’s side secured a win in their only match together prior the commencement of the Championship proper.

Australia will play Syria, Vietnam, and Korea Republic in Group D at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship in China, and will require a top two finish in their group to advance to the Quarter Finals of the competition.

All three of Australia’s group matches at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship in China will be broadcast LIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ad-break free during play on FOX SPORTS.

Australia’s results at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship will impact the team’s seeding for the 2020 AFC U23 Championship, which will double as the qualification tournament for the 2020 Summer Olympics to be held in Tokyo, Japan.

U23 International Friendly
Saturday, 6 January 2018
Shanghai, China

Australia U23 2 (Cowburn 8’, Mauk 52’)
Thailand U23 1 (Worachit 70’)

2018 AFC U23 Championship – Group D:

Australia U23 v Syria U23
Thursday 11 January 2018
Kunshan Stadium, Kunshan
Kick-off: 4pm (local); 7pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Second half LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on FOX SPORTS 501 following ‘Just For Kicks’

Vietnam U23 v Australia U23
Sunday 14 January 2018
Kunshan Stadium, Kunshan
Kick-off: 4pm (local); 7pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Full match LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on FOX SPORTS 506

Korea Republic U23 v Australia U23
Wednesday 17 January 2018
Kunshan Stadium, Kunshan
Kick-off: 7.30pm (local); 10.30pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Full match LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on FOX SPORTS 501

This article was originally published at: www.a-league.com.au/news/australia-defeats-thailand-afc-u23-championship-approaches