The Olyroos crashed out of the AFC U22 Championship in Oman overnight with a 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia after a vital disallowed goal and going down to 10-men.
After a scoreless first half in the quarter final tie, Abdulfattah Asiri opened the scoring 13 minutes into the second half before Abdullah Khalid Al Ammar capitalised on an error from defender Scott Galloway to add a crucial second four minutes later. A Peter Skapetis goal from the penalty spot did reduce the deficit with 13 minutes to go, but the Olyroos were unable to find an equaliser in the dying stages of the match.
Following a cagey opening, Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais took no chances as the custodian pushed a well-struck shot from Andrew Hoole over the crossbar after 11 minutes before Al Ammar flashed an effort narrowly wide at the other end.
Saudi Arabia went even closer to a breakthrough midway through the first half as defender Mohammed Al Fatil met Asiri’s free-kick, but thankfully the Olyroos goalkeeper, Aaron Lennox, was able to to cover the flicked header..
But with the conservative nature of the contest continuing, a rising strike from Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Otayf on the stroke of half-time closed out an even 45 minutes.
Saudi Arabia continued to enjoy the better chances at the start of the second half as Al Ammar fired into the side netting from an acute angle after racing onto Saleh Al Shehri’s through ball.
The Olyroos did have the ball in the back of the net soon after but the ref's whistle ruled out Connor Pain's strike when he beat Al Owais from just inside the penalty area.
Saudi Arabia took full advantage two minutes before the hour mark as a well-worked team move eventually found Asiri, whose shot beat Lennox.
Four minutes later Saudi Arabia doubled their advantage as Galloway was dispossessed inside his own penalty area and Al Ammar was able to fire home..
The Olyroos task became harder with 17 minutes remaining as Hoole received a straight red card for a heavy challenge on Saudi Arabia goalscorer Asiri which resulted in a heated melee between the two sides.
But just four minutes later, against the odds, the Olyroos were handed a lifeline as second half substitute Stefan Mauk was upended inside the area. Peter Skapetis sent Al Owais the wrong way from the resulting penalty to reduce the deficit.
The Olyroos were unable to find the all-important equaliser despite eight minutes of added time following an injury to Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Al Owais.
Olyroos Head Coach Aurelio Vidmar was disappointed, but philosophical, about his team’s performance in the match and the tournament as a whole.
“Full credit to Saudi Arabia as they played well and got two goals in quick succession and that hurt us," he said. “But to be honest, we were very sloppy in the first half as I thought we could have done better with a lot of opportunities in the front third.
“This is a learning experience for us and we will learn a lot for the next time we come to this tournament, so it has been good for us. I am disappointed with the result, but I now know what certain players can do and what certain players can’t do.
“Our attitude has always been to bring young players and for us we have done what we wanted to.
“We need to give the players competitive international football and we have found that at this tournament. We have done well to get to this stage, although I would have hoped for a better performance tonight,."
Saudi Arabia will now face Jordan in the semi-finals with Iraq to face Korea Republic in the other match..
Olyroos 1 (Peter Skapetis 77’ (pen))
Saudi Arabia 2 (Abdulfattah Asiri 58’, Abdullah Khalid Alammar 62’)
Olyroos line-up: 1.Aaron Lennox (gk) , 3.Curtis Good (C) , 4.Connor Chapman , 6.Joshua Brillante , 8.Ryan Edwards , 10.Adam Taggart (7.Stefan Mauk 62’), 11.Connor Pain (9.Dylan Tombides 88’), 13.Scott Galloway , 16.Reece Caira (2.Jason Geria 79’), 21.Andrew Hoole , 23.Petros Skapetis
Substitutes Not Used: 5.Corey Brown , 12.Jack Duncan , 14.Nicholas Ansell , 15.David Vrankovic , 17.Jake Barker-Daish , 18.John Hall , 19.Hagi Gligor , 20.Christopher Ikonomidis , 22.Ryan Kitto ,
Yellow Cards: Reece Caira 74’, Curtis Good 90+4’
Red Cards: Andrew Hoole 73’
Saudi Arabia line-up: 2.Hamad Aljayzani , 3.Mohammed Alfatil , 5.Zakaria Alsudani , 6.Maan Khodary (11.Ibrahim Alibrahim 71’), 8.Abdullah Khalid Alammar (13.Saeed Almuwallad 72‘), 12.Abdulfattah Asiri , 16.Abdullah Otayf , 18.Motaz Hawsawi (C) , 19.Saleh Alshehri , 21.Mohammed Alowais (gk) (22.Ahmad Alharbi (gk) 90’), 23.Abdullah Madu
Substitutes Not Used: 1.FAISAL ALMASRAHI (gk) , 10.Wesam Waheeb , 14.Majed Alnajrani , 15.Saleh Mohammed Aljaman , 17.Abdullah Alhafith , 20.Mohammed Majrashi
Yellow Cards: Zakaria Alsudani 62’4 comments