AFC Asian Cup 2019: Group B Preview - Australia, Jordan, Syria and Palestine

With just over a week left for the 2019 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup to get underway, the continent’s 24 best teams are set to descend in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The 17th edition of the continental competition sees the participating teams drawn into six groups of four teams each.

Here, Goal takes a look at Group B comprising of heavyweights Australia, Syria, Palestine and Jordan.

AUSTRALIA

The defending champions are participating in their fourth Asian Cup since making the switch from the Oceania Confederation. The Socceroos had a disappointing FIFA World Cup campaign in Russia earlier this year where they crashed out of the group stages after defeats against France and Peru along with a draw against Denmark.

Since then, the squad has seen the talismanic Tim Cahill retire from international football while Graham Arnold has taken over the reins of the team in what is his second stint as Australia coach.

Arnold was the interim coach of Australia in their first Asian Cup appearance in 2007 and has overseen his side to comfortable wins against Lebanon and Kuwait along with draw against South Korea since his most recent appointment.

The Socceroos have been hit with a late setback heading into the competition with star Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy ruled out with a knee-injury.

Key players - Mathew Ryan, Massimo Luongo

SYRIA

Syria are the sixth best Asian team according to the FIFA rankings heading into the competition. It will be the nation’s sixth appearance in the tournament’s history and it comes after they missed out on qualification in the 2015 edition.

German coach Bernd Stange has an experienced squad at his hands, one which just narrowly missed out on qualification to the 2018 FIFA World Cup after a 3-2 defeat at hands of fellow Group B rivals Australia in the two-legged play-offs.

Stange’s men have a chance to make amends for that agonising loss in a few days and they will be determined to put in their best-ever showing in the competition having failed to advance past the group stages on all previous attempts.

Key Players - Al Somah and Omar Khribin

PALESTINE

Undefeated in their last eight matches, Palestine are making their second consecutive appearance in the competition after making their maiden bow in the 2015 edition. Then, the team had failed to win a single match in the group stages.

Coached by Noureddine Ould Ali, Palestine have been in impressive form of late with 1-1 draws in international friendlies against Iran and China.

The team have set up camp in Doha, Qatar since the early part of December in a bid to undertake the best preparations possible for the tournament.

They have been growing in confidence after a rare international trophy in the form of the Bangabandhu Cup where they went undefeated before beating Tajikistan in the final.

Key Players - Yashir Pinto

JORDAN

Coached by former Belgium international Vital Borkelmans, Jordan are making their fourth-ever appearance in the competition.

The side has undergone plenty of upheavals over the course of the last three years with as many as six changes of head coaches including former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp.

The side has had its ups and downs over the last few months with a victory against India and a narrow defeat to World Cup runners-up Croatia. However, they head into the competition over the back of recent defeats to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Borkelmans’ men have a tough ask in front of themselves if they are to improve on their best-ever Asian Cup finish - quarter-finals (2004 and 2007).

Key Players - Amer Shafi