Saudi Arabia defeat Futsalroos in second AFC Futsal Asian Cup group game

The Futsalroos have been defeated 4-2 by Saudi Arabia in their second group stage game of the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Thailand 2024™.

Head coach Miles Downie made one change to the starting side from Wednesday’s game against Uzbekistan, with Adam Cooper coming into the lineup to replace Jordan Guerreiro.

The first half was an even, hard fought affair. Both sides created opportunities but neither were able to break the deadlock.

Domenic Badalato was again in the thick of the action. The most impressive defending came in the 13th minute when Badalato, then Ethan De Melo, then Wade Giovenali managed to get in the way of consecutive shots and prevent the opener.

Australia mostly had the upper hand as the match approached the half-time break. The Futsalroos were dangerous from set pieces in particular, with Humood Aldahhan keeping his side in the game in goal.

The match exploded into life in the second half. Saudi Arabia were the team who opened the scoring through Nawaf Mubarak Aroan after a free kick. Australia almost instantly hit back, Ethan De Melo striking a stunning volley from outside the area to level things up.

However, any momentum that the Futsalroos had after the equaliser soon came to a halt. After review, Wade Giovenali was given a red card after receiving his second yellow.

It meant that Australia were reduced to four players for two minutes, and Giovenali was unable to take further part in the match. He will also be suspended for Australia’s final group stage game against Iraq.

Nawaf scored his second while Saudi Arabia had the extra player, making it 2-1. Again – this time, through Jamie Dib – the Futsalroos were able to equalise and keep themselves in the game.

When Fares Fahad Almaleh made it three, though, Australia could not come back a third occasion. In an attempt to find the equaliser in the dying stages they used a powerplay, with Adam Cooper the player to come on in Badalato’s place but they were unable to break down a sturdy Saudi Arabia defence.

Abdullah Almaghrabi made it four when he was able to clear the ball into the open net in the final minute of play.

In a desperate attempt to keep Australia in the game, Daniel Fornito committed a foul in the dying moments that was considered by the referee a denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity, and was given the team’s second red card of the match as a result.

The Futsalroos will now have to rely on Uzbekistan defeating Iraq, and then themselves overcoming Iraq by a significant margin, to have any chance to advance from the group stage in their first AFC Futsal Asian Cup™ since 2016.

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