In mid-2018, an influential Saudi consultant bought an Egyptian football club, renamed it Pyramids FC, and created a new club logo dominated by a sphinx, not by pyramids.
Among the tens of millions that Turki Al-Sheikh had spent was the Syrian defender Omar Midani, and when the 24-year-old becomes confused by the identity of his new club, he was all the more confused when he was in a wild match Australia had played a decisive role in the last sixteen at the Asian Cup.
The Socceroos’ 3-2 victory was secured by Tom Rogic’s impressive late strike, but before that it was a collision that was littered with incidents.
After Aver Mabil had given Australia a 41-minute lead and was only deleted two minutes later by Omar Khrbin – another recruit from Pyramids FC – the second half was scheduled for a thrilling final in a match Australia could not afford.
Nine minutes after the restart, Chris Ikonomidis put the Socceroos back on top, but only after a series of questionable decisions with Syrian defender Midani, who was adamant that he had been able to shoot the shot off the line.
Shortly after one hour, the Syrian Aggravation became a thrill as a ball into the penalty area hit Captain Mark Milligan’s arm just for the referee, Cesar Ramos, on the arm to wipe out the penalty.
The Mexican officer is part of an exchange program between the AFC and their Concacaf counterparts. But why a referee who is less concerned with Asian football has received such an important match is an issue to be discussed.
This is all the more the case when he is confused by Syria’s annoyance to Australia by imposing a sanction on the Socceroos – which Omar Al Somah converted – following an incident in which two Syrian players appeared to collapse in the penalty box.
On the big stage, at crucial moments in a crucial game, these were decisions that have been instrumental in helping Australia accelerate progress and put Syria out of the competition.
Whether you love it or hate it, VAR could have easily resolved these three issues, but for reasons known only to them, the AFC decided not to introduce video until the quarter-finals. It’s a bit like a New Year’s resolution in April.
In the end, Australia will win the victory – and the progression – in every possible way, and with Rogic’s brilliant late winner, they have solid grounds to argue that they were more the meritakers.
Hesitating and negligent in their first defeat by Jordan, the Socceroos improved with a comfortable win over Palestine and have now taken another gear to see a Syrian side that had qualified in qualifying for the World Cup at the end of 2017.
The fact that they made it to the bench with only eight substitutes – including two keeper – as the suspension and injury robbed the team of many starters, makes the progress all the more impressive.
Japan or Uzbekistan are now waiting for the Socceroos. The former club presents a clash that revives the memories of Graham Arnold’s first term in the national team.
Back then, at the 2007 Asian Cup, Japan sent off in the quarter-final for penalties from Australia. Captain Mark Milligan, the only surviving member of the team after ten years, was more interested in Australia’s development than the controversial demands that stained the match.
“It’s football, these things happen and sometimes they go for you and sometimes they go against you and we can not control that, but what we can control is the way we move our patterns and our speed.
“At the end of this game, we showed that we are rewarded if we stick to our principles. It was a good game for us, because sometimes we dealt with different things and we are disappointed that in the end I conceded two goals, the result is fair. “
“I think we’ll be taking a lot from today’s experiences, because these are things you can not replicate in training, things you can only get while playing, and you always want to learn your lessons while you win. “
After this slow start, this winning sensation has overflowed the Socceroos twice in a row. While in the United Arab Emirates, a major focus is on the so-called heavyweights of Iran, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, the Socceroos fly well under the radar. They feel that Graham Arnold and his side like things.