United Arab Emirates 0-0 Australia
Australia drew 0-0 with the United Arab Emirates at the Al Ain Club ground in the UAE this morning (Australian time).
Australia were without Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell, Jason Culina, Brett Emerton and Mark Schwarzer for this final hit-out against the United Arab Emirates before the Asian Cup tournament starts in Qatar on Saturday.
Australia’s first game in Group C will be on Tuesday morning (Australian time) against India.
The only likely starters in the forthcoming tournament were the back-four of Luke Wilkshire, Lucas Neill, Sasa Ognenovski and David Carney.
Australia started well and had the better of the opening quarter of an hour before fading away and being under real pressure in the second half.
First-half chances to Bret Holman and Matt McKay were Australia’s only real chances of the opening half.
Australian coach, Holger Osieck, made two changes at half-time, replacing goalkeeper Brad Jones with Nathan Coe, and Luke Wilkshire with Jade North. He made three more in the 62nd minute, but all that did was upset the structure and rhythm of the team.
Very few of the Australians caught the eye and this will not be the line-up that faces India. The fringe players were given their chance, but apart from Jason Burns and Matt McKay, no-one staked a claim for selection when the real business starts.
The UAE made six substitutions during the course of the second half and should have scored several goals. Two shots went just wide, one was well saved by Coe, while another smashed against the post with Coe beaten.
The Australians did have two second-half chances that fell to McKay, but he was off target.
As always, Australia had a goalscoring problem. This must be rectified for the coming tournament and, hopefully, Cahill and Kewell will come up with the goods.
United Arab Emirates: Naser; Juma, Rahman, Wehaibi, Al Kamali, Natar, Khalil, Abbas, Jaber, Khater, Khamis
Booked: Rahman, Kamali
Australia: Jones (Coe 46) - Wilkshire North 46), Neill, Ognenovski, Carney - Valeri, Jedinak (Kilkenny 62), Burns, Holman (Oar 62) - McKay, McDonald (Kruse 62) (Subs not used: Spiranovic, McKain)
Booked: Wilkshire, Ognenovski
Ref: Ali Saban (Kuwait)