Match Preview: Bahrain v Australia | International friendship

The Tunnel Socceroos take on Bahrain in the early hours of Sunday morning in the lead-up to the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ campaign.

Bahrain are in strong form in 2023, having won three of their last four games coming into this Australian clash.

A 2-0 World Cup qualifier against Yemen was followed by a 2-0 loss to Asian powerhouses UAE at the end of last year.

Juan Antonio Pizzi's side have several attacking weapons, including creative frontman Gomail Al-Aswad.

The three-time Bahrain Premier League winner has two goals and two assists in the AFC Cup this season, helping his side top their group and progress to the knockout stages.

Ali Madan is another in attack who is enjoying a productive season in the UAE with five goals and four assists for the Ajman club.

Jackson Irwin

Photo credit: Aleksandar Jason/Socceroos.

Mohamed Marhoon provides further quality with his versatility in midfield and up front.

The 25-year-old was on the scoresheet in the win over Yemen in November and will be keen to do more damage against Australia.

With only 12 men recalled from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 squad, the Socceroos have announced a competitive squad ahead of the cup.

Among the new players Socceroos fans will get their first look at is Bolton Wanderers defender Kethin Jones, who is confirmed to start.

Jones has been a key part of the Wanderers backline in the hunt for promotion to the EFL Championship, currently in second place.

2. Exciting forward John Iredale could get his first Socceroos action following some promising performances for Wehen Wiesbaden in the Bundesliga.

Airedale scored in their final game before the trip to Qatar, with Jackson Irvine and Connor Metcalf's 1-1 draw with St Paul's.

There is plenty of other competition at the striker position, with Bruno Forneroli scoring 13 goals in 10 A-League Men's games.

Mitchell Duke comes into the game after lifting the J-League 2 trophy in 2023.

Keanu Baccus and Aiden O'Neill are the options in midfield, having received extended minutes for their respective European club sides St Mirren and Standard Liege.

Graham Arnold confirmed in his team announcement Matty should recover in time for the Ryan Cup opener but will miss the Bahrain clash.

It means one of the A-League duo, Joe Cousin and Lawrence Thomas, will be playing between the sticks on Sunday.

Sunday is a crucial test for Australia as they put the finishing touches on their plans before competing for the Asia Cup.

Current FIFA ranking

Australia: 25
Bahrain: 86

Head-to-head vs Bahrain

Played: 5
Hits: 5
Draws: 0
Losses: 0
Goals Scored: 9
Goals Conceded: 1


Thanks Jack George for the insight

  • Bruno Fornaroli has scored an astonishing 13 goals in 10 games this campaign – an average of 1.35 per game, while eight of his goals have come from two separate four-goal performances.
  • Forneroli has scored 13 of his goals on just 37 shots – a 35.14% conversion rate, and has an expected goals-against of 5.07.
  • Martin Boyle created 1.82 chances per 90 for Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership, while completing 1.88 successful dribbles and winning 1.25 crosses per game.
  • Craig Goodwin has seven goal involvements in his 14 Saudi Pro League games in the 2023/24 campaign – averaging a goal or assist every other game
  • Jordan Bos has completed 1.83 successful triples per game for Westerlo in Belgium, a success rate of 57.1% this campaign.
  • In the Scottish Premiership, Lewis Miller leads all other fullbacks in duels won (128), interceptions (27), trebles won (17) and fouls won (35).
  • Lawrence Thomas kept five clean sheets in nine A-League Men's matches while conceding just ten goals all season.

What they said

Graham Arnold in team selection against Bahrain

I think I can be quite honest and say straight up that I would start Gethin Jones because I want to see him in a game where he has to connect with the players. Apparently, he had never played with boys before. But I'd say casting him in the role he plays at his club would make things a lot easier for him. We did 11 v 11, 15, 16 minutes twice yesterday in training and he was very good. So if I say that as a surprise, that's the only real surprise you'll see. So a few players obviously need some competitive minutes and haven't played in the last two weeks, like Mitchell Duke in Japan, where the J League was suspended and ended at the end of November. But I've got 26 very good players here, there's already a headache about who to start and who not to start, and everyone is ready, fit and ready to go. Not only will it be fun to pick the team for this match against Bahrain, but also for the future Asia Cup.

Graham Arnold confirmed that Matty Ryan will miss the friendship

Matty is out of it. But he is taking full training. But what happens if Matty gets sick again is a question. Or if Matty gets hurt, what's next? Who's next?… As I said, we have a training session today and the discussion today will be about the starting eleven, obviously, with the staff. As I've always said, John Crawley has a big role in that side and who plays in goals.

Graham Arnold on the fitness of Riley McCree and Marco DiLeo

Saw (Riley McCree) him yesterday, probably updated him the last six to seven weeks since his injury. He is in great shape. Again we have competition for those places. You know he's going to share the minutes of that match with another player tomorrow, but at the end of the day, he's in fantastic shape. Tlio looked very sharp yesterday, he has come with a lot of motivation, I expect

Sam Silvera

I think the first couple of days were just socializing, laughing and camaraderie amongst the boys. But I think we have a fantastic team and with the talent we have in this team, I think we can do well in this tournament.

Keith Jones

I know Arnie (Graham Arnold) and (Rene Meulenstein) have been coming to games at Bolton for a few months. A few months ago, Rene contacted me after a game, I met Rene and then suddenly, I got a phone call from Arnie asking if I wanted to play for the Socceroos.

Positionally, Jones said he is the best, although he has experience across the backline and is ready to step in where needed. „I've played in many positions over the years, especially at Bolton, I've played left wing back, left back, right center back and of course right back, so I'm versatile,” he said. . But I would say that obviously my main position is back, but as long as the manager puts me on the pitch, wherever he wants me to play, I will give my 100%.

Kethin Jones welcomed the Socceroos environment Press conference

Craig Goodwin

When we come into these camps, everyone says the same thing, it's like a second family coming here. It's so easy to get along with everyone and feel so comfortable, so I think it's really important to have that kind of environment, especially for new players.

We have ambitions to win the Asia Cup and to do that, we need to have a ruthless mindset and focus on what's coming next. Although we're very happy with what we've done here in the past (Qatar), that's in the past and we've got what we need to focus on trying to bring the Asian Cup back. Australia.

How to see

Competition details

Bahrain v Tunnel Socceroos
Saturday, 6 January
Baniyas Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Kick-off: 6.00pm local/1.00am AEDT (Sunday, 7 January)
Broadcast: Paramount+

Subway Socceroos AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ Fixtures (Group B):

Australia v India
Saturday, 13 January 2024
Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Kick-off: 2:30pm local (10:30pm AEDT)
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+

Syria v Australia
Thursday, 18 January 2024
Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: 2:30pm local (10:30pm AEDT)
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+

Australia and Uzbekistan
Tuesday, 23 January 2024
Al Janob Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: 2:30pm local (10:30pm AEDT)
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+

Every AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 match will be live on Paramount+

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