Grant inks new Sky Blues contract

Australia international Rhyan Grant will stay with Sydney FC for another three years.

Grant has been with the Sky Blues for a decade already, and has now re-signed until the end of the 2021/22 season.

He joined the club as a 17-year-old youth team player and is now Sydney FC's longest-serving player.

Grant, who has played 179 games in all competitions and scored nine goals for the Sky Blues, has just returned from being part of the Australia squad at the Asian Cup.

The right back said it felt very good to have another three years security, and that he felt very comfortable at the club.

"You want to be part of the best club and most ambitious club going forward, so that was my main motivation for staying," he added.

"We've been very successful over the last couple of years so I want to build on that and to win all competitions that we are a part of."

Grant made his Socceroos debut in a friendly against Lebanon last year, being given his first chance at senior level by Graham Arnold who had been his coach at club level.

He has played in three premiership teams with Sydney FC, as well as winning the championship with the club in 2009/10 and 2016/17.

Coach Steve Corica said of the defender: "He has shown real loyalty to the club and has been a great servant and a top professional. He's been great for the club, very energetic and a fantastic guy; he is also an experienced player who leads by example and that is what we stand for with our beliefs and our culture."

Sydney FC are 10/3 to win the Grand Final.

The Sky Blues are 4/7 to win their next game against Brisbane Roar, who are 17/4 with the draw 3/1.

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Degenek: I ended our dreams

Defender Milos Degenek held his hands up after an error that cost Australia defeat to UAE in the Asian Cup quarter-finals.

It was the Red Star Belgrade player's back pass that resulted in the only goal of the game in Al Ain, with the hosts scoring through Ali Mabkhout in the second half.

It meant the Socceroos defence of the trophy is over, with UAE going through to meet Qatar in the semi-finals.

Degenek said: "Obviously we didn't go through tonight because of my mistake. I let the team down, let the boys down, let our country down.

"I feel bad for the boys because I ended our dreams. I made the mistake that shattered all our dreams, and not just ours but our country's but we didn't deserve it tonight I think."

The 24-year-old was in tears in the dressing room after the game, according to coach Graham Arnold.

But he didn't shy away from the cameras, as he owned up to the calamitous back pass which was intercepted by Mabkhout for his fourth goal of the tournament.

"I don't feel bad for myself as much as I do for the boys because the boys did not deserve to end the tournament that way tonight," said Degenek.

"I can live with myself and this mistake it's something I'll have to deal with but can't blame anyone else obviously."

The Socceroos exited the tournament at the same stage that Graham Arnold's men were infamously dumped from the Asian Cup in 2007.

Hull City's Jackson Irvine said he'd told Degenek after the game to get on his feet and keep his head up.

Irvine added: "He's been one of our most promising players, he's got a huge career ahead of him and, while I haven't seen the incident, I think he's too honest for his own good."

Iran are now 13/10 to win the Asian Cup, with their last-four opponents Japan priced at 12/5 and tournament hosts the UAE 6/1.

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Australia knocked out of Asian Cup

Australia's defence of the Asian Cup came to an end when they lost 1-0 to UAE in Al Ain, with a gift of a goal.

Ali Mabkhout scored the only goal of the quarter-final at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium midway through the second half, seizing on a poor backpass from Milos Degenek.

He was able to skip around keeper Mat Ryan and fire into an empty net to send the hosts through to a semi-final clash with Qatar.

Degenek gave Ryan, who had been the hero of the Round of 16 victory against Uzbekistan with a pair of penalty saves, no chance to prevent the winning goal.

It was Mabkhout's fourth goal of the tournament, putting him joint-second on the scoring table.

Australia had more shots and more possession than the hosts but weren't able to capitalise.

Trent Sainsbury flashed an early header over the bar before Ryan was called into action, palming away Ismail Al Hamadi's effort following a rapid breakaway.

The Socceroos almost broke the deadlock when Jamie Maclaren had a goal-bound header cleared off the line by defender Fares Juma, with Apostolos Giannou then seeing a shot from from distance tipped away by keeper Khalid Eisa.

Mabkhout headed over from close range just before the break, after being left unmarked by the Socceroos defence.

Graham Arnold's side continued to threaten in the second half, with Hull City's Jackson Irvine heading narrowly wide before Apostolos Giannou had an effort ruled out for offside.

After Mabkhout netted for the hosts Australia had chances to get back on terms but Mathew Leckie headed over from a corner and Awer Mabil fired wide from the final chance of the game.

UAE are 6/1 to win the Asian Cup, with Iran 13/10 ahead of a quarter-final with Japan – currently 12/5 to lift the trophy.

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Giannou in frame for Socceroos start

Striker Apostolos Giannou is set for his first start at the Asian Cup when Australia take on hosts the United Arab Emirates.

The Socceroos are without Tom Rogic through suspension for the quarter-final.

Coach Graham Arnold has flagged a possible tactical change since the penalty shootout victory against Uzbekistan in the Round of 16.

Giannou believes if he plays with two strikers it could bring the best out of himself and the team.

"I prefer to be the second striker in a game rather than the one who sits up there and waits but either way I'm happy … if I'm playing, I'm happy," he said. "It helps (with) attacking, as well – the more numbers you have up front, it's not that easy for the others to predict what you're going to do."

The Socceroos have used a 4-3-3- formation so far in the tournament but have struggled to dictate terms.

"It could surprise the other teams – maybe they think we'll play a certain way and we'll play a different way," said Giannou.

"That's up to the coaching team and coaches to find the way; we're just there to execute what they tell us."

Having only come into the squad as an injury replacement player when Martin Boyle was ruled out, Giannou has been a solid contributor off the bench in all four matches so far.

The 28-year-old was on target in the win over Palestine in the group stages and netted Australia's third penalty as they saw off Uzbekistan to make it to the last eight.

He's now in the frame to partner Jamie Maclaren in the front line, while the other options include a fit-again Mathew Leckie, who made a successful return from a hamstring injury in the Round of 16.

Australia are 19/20 to win their next game against the United Arab Emirates, who are 7/2 with the draw 21/10.

The Socceroos are 5/2 to reach the final.

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Penalty saves the ‘pinnacle’ for Ryan

Mat Ryan was able to emulate his hero Mark Schwarzer by making sure Australia could reach the last eight of the Asian Cup.

The Brighton and Hove Albion keeper stopped two penalties in their 4-2 shootout victory in the round of 16 over Uzbekistan.

The Socceroos, who will now face hosts United Arab Emirates in the quarter-finals, were held to a goalless draw by Uzbekistan in Al Ain and extra time couldn't split the teams.

So it went to penalties, and ultimately Ryan's saves and Mathew Leckie's decisive spot-kick kept Australia's defence of the trophy alive.

It brought back memories of Schwarzer's epic 2005 showing against Uruguay which ensured the Socceroos would end a 32-year wait for a World Cup finals appearance.

Ryan said he had been in the crowd in that match in Sydney, adding: "Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be out here representing Australia, having been a young fan that night.

"Recently I got 50 caps to my name and for that tonight now…I hadn't saved a penalty for the national team, it was something that was bugging me. To get two in that moment just there, I'm really happy and for a goalkeeper that's the pinnacle."

Ryan parried Islom Tukhtakhujaev's strike down the middle and then picked the right way to foil Marat Bikmaev.

His saves tipped the balance back into Australia's favour after Uzbek keeper Ignatiy Nesterov had kept out Aziz Behich's spot-kick.

Ryan admitted he'd done his homework on the opposition to prepare for what he might face if the match went to penalties.

"In this day and age you're always trying to have a look before the game to see if you can gain some kind of advantage," said the keeper.

"You have to have a bit of luck at the end of the day with the side you choose to go or whether you stay in the middle – thankfully twice tonight [the decisions] paid off."

Australia are 7/1 to win the Asian Cup final. The Socceroos are 3/1 to reach the final.

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Socceroos through after shootout

Australia went through in unconvincing fashion to the Asian Cup quarter-finals, with a penalty shootout win against Uzbekistan.

The Socceroos won 4-2 on penalties in Al Ain after the previous 120 minutes had failed to produce a goal.

There was a shortage of attacking intent shown by both sides, which will leave Australia concerned ahead of their quarter-final clash with the United Arab Emirates.

Graham Arnold's team will need to improve against tournament the hosts, who edged past Kyrgyzstan 3-2 thanks to a penalty in extra time.

And they'll be without Tom Rogic at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, after he picked up a second yellow card during the tournament.

Arnold will have Hull City's Jackson Irvine in his mind for an attacking midfield role in the quarter-final, and could consider further changes to his starting side.

Chris Ikonomidis failed to fire up front for the Socceroos, with several poor touches in the final third, and a number of players were below their best.

The star of the victory was keeper Mat Ryan, who produced a pair of wonderful penalty shootout saves, first down the middle and then to his right.

Mathew Leckie then held his nerve to bury his penalty and send Australia through to the last eight.

Speaking of Ryan, Arnold said: "That is why he is in the Premier League…the two saves in the shootout showed what a top goalkeeper he is. He does a lot of homework, when he goes into a game he ticks all the boxes."

Ryan rescued Australia in the 10th minute when he denied Eldor Shomurodov from a one-on-one opportunity, and that proved to be just about the best chance of the match.

Leckie, sent on for Awer Mabil, teed up Rogic for a strike midway through the second half.

Regulation time produced few decent chances, though the Uzbeks were fortunate not to have to go through extra time with only ten men after Davronbek Khashimov avoided being shown a second yellow late in the game after fouling Ikonomidis.

The Socceroos pushed forward in extra time but were ultimately unable to fashion anything more than half-chances.

Uzbekistan ran out the game strongly with a flurry of late substitutions, but they too could not create anything meaningful going forward.

The Socceroos are 3/1 to reach the final, while Australia are 7/1 to win the Asian Cup outright.

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Mabil says thanks to coach Arnold

Australia forward Awer Mabil dedicated his vital goal against Syria to coach Graham Arnold, after the 3-2 win that put the Socceroos into Asian Cup round of 16.

The FC Midtjylland striker fired in a superb curling effort from outside the box to give Arnold's side the lead in Al Ain.

It was his fourth in his first seven internationals, and he says he feels thrilled to be a part of an exciting squad under Arnold.

Speaking of his goal, Mabil said: "It was really nice, it means a lot. [Arnold] has given me a chance to help my country and it's a chance I'll always be thankful for."

The 23-year-old said he had dedicated his first Socceroos goal, in the friendly win over Kuwait in October, to the coach and was happy to be able to do so again on the big stage.

He raced over to the bench to celebrate with Arnold and the coaching staff after netting late in the first half.

"Today it was good to get an official goal and dedicate it to him to say thank you for the opportunity," he added. "There's always a pride to represent my country, and also be part of this group.

"The philosophy suits everybody and brings out the best in everybody. You can see in the last two games that we're carrying a good momentum; we still have a lot to give."

Mabil hadn't represented the Socceroos until Arnold took over as coach following last year's World Cup.

The former Adelaide United player got on the scoresheet on his debut against Kuwait after coming on as a substitute in the 4-0 victory, and now has three goals in the last four games.

Meanwhile, Adelaide United are 14/1 to win the A-League Grand Final.

The Reds are 13/10 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 19/10 with the draw 5/2.

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Arnold: We learned from Jordan loss

Australia coach Graham Arnold was pleased his team learned quickly from their shock opening loss, after they got their Asian Cup defence back on track with a 3-0 victory against Palestine.

The Socceroos' Group B campaign had got off to a shaky start in Al Ain against Jordan, when they went down 1-0.

They needed to bounce back strongly against Palestine and achieved that, with goals from Jamie Maclaren – his first for his country – Awer Mabil and Apostolos Giannou.

Arnold said Palestine had tried to play a similar game to Jordan, whose tactics had worked in squeezing Australia out in midfield.

But he'd expected such an approach, he explained, and the squad had spent the time since the Jordan game working on how they would overcome the tactics.

"It's taken a bit of time to get things going," said the coach. "But as I said after the Jordan game, when you lose you learn; and we learned a lot from that day.

"We went onto the training pitch, we worked hard to fix that issue if the teams play quite defensive."

A draw in their final group game against Syria would be enough to take Australia through to the knockout stages.

But Arnold said the team would go into the clash "all guns blazing".

"We'll get better and better as we go," he added. "There's been a lot of changes in the team, a lot of changes in the staff, so we're a new team, and will still grow."

Syria drew 0-0 with Palestine in their first Asian Cup match and then were beaten 2-0 by Jordan.

Australia are 12/1 to win the Asian Cup.

The Socceroos are 1/2 to win their next game against Syria, who are 13/2 with the draw 14/5.

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Maclaren delight at first Australia goal

Jamie Maclaren was happy to get off the mark for Australia, in their 3-0 Asian Cup victory against Palestine.

The Hibernian frontman broke his duck in his 10th appearance for the Socceroos, netting with a header from Tom Rogic's cross.

His goal on 18 minutes in Dubai gave Graham Arnold's side a lift, and when Awer Mabil made it 2-0 just two minutes later they had a stranglehold on the match.

Maclaren said of his goal: "It's been a long time coming…but I've just stayed on my path. I'm a goalscorer and it was going to come one way or another; many people say I can't head the ball but today I showed them."

He added: "Right from the start we scored two early goals so that really settles us. It's a great win from the boys and a clean sheet as well helps."

There was pressure on the Socceroos after they went down 1-0 in their first game to Jordan, but Chris Ikonomidis, who claimed assists on goals by Mabil and substitute Apostolos Giannou, said there had been no panic in the squad ahead of the Palestine match.

"We just stuck to our tactics throughout the week; it's a new era under Arnie and we're really finding our feet now," he added.

"We were a young front line out there today and it showed in our fluency up front, our diversity and interchanging positions."

Ikonomidis was one of three new faces in the Socceroos starting side following the Jordan loss.

Australia will face Syria in their final Group B game, knowing a draw will be enough to send them through.

The Socceroos are 1/2 to win their next game against Syria, who are 13/2 with the draw 14/5.

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Socceroos back on track in Asian Cup

Two early goals powered Australia to a first win at the Asian Cup, as they beat Palestine 3-0 in Dubai.

Shocked in their opening Group B match by Jordan, the Socceroos rebounded strongly with Jamie Maclaren and Awer Mabil netting inside the first 20 minutes.

A header from substitute Apostolos Giannou a minute from time rounded off the comfortable win at Rashid Stadium.

With Jordan winning their second match, 2-0 against Syria, it means Australia can't now catch them for top spot in the group but are well placed to go through as the second automatic qualifiers.

They have two more points than Palestine or Syria, and only need a draw against Syria in their final match to progress.

Maclaren headed home an 18th minute cross from Tom Rogic, who was able to play despite having broken a bone in his hand against Jordan.

It was Hibernian striker Maclaren's first goal for the Socceroos, his glancing header nestling in the far corner beyond keeper Rami Hamada.

Within two minutes Mabil ghosted in to latch on to an angled ball from Chris Ikonomidis. Giannou's goal also came from an Ikonomidis cross.

The Socceroos could have gone 3-0 up before the break, but Mabil blazed over from close range.

Graham Arnold's side almost scored again when Rhyan Grant's low cross deflected off Abdallah Jaber and struck the bar.

Palestine did not muster a single effort on target and have failed to score in their two games so far.

But they can still go through if they beat Jordan, who have already secured qualification.

The Socceroos are 1/2 to win their next game against Syria, who are 13/2 with the draw 14/5.

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