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Australia can only improve, Blackwood warns challengers

Friday, January 12, 2018

Kunshan: Two-goal hero George Blackwood has warned the rest of the teams at the AFC U23 Championship China 2018 that Australia will improve as the tournament progresses after seeing off Syria in their opening game in Group D on Thursday.

Blackwood’s goals sandwiched a header from Bruce Kamau as Ante Milicic’s side impressed in picking up the three points against the Syrians with a 3-1 win that put down a marker for the rest of the competition.

Australia’s fluid performance was particularly notable given the lack of preparation time afforded to the team due to the on-going A-League season, and the Adelaide United striker is confident the understanding within the Olyroos team is only going to increase.

“We’ve got a few players in the squad who haven’t been released by their clubs previously and I think we’re starting to gel as a team going forward,” said the 20-year-old. 

“Hopefully we can a little bit more compact in defence starting from me, or whoever plays up front, through to the goalkeeper. Maybe we need to be a little more compact at times. But after that game we’ll get better and better as we play together more.

“We would’ve liked to score a few more goals (against Syria) and keep a clean sheet, but I think it was definitely a good game to get under our belts before the next game. We’re only going to get better in the next game.”

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Blackwood represented Australia at the AFC U-19 Championship in 2016 and while the team’s preparations were limited, he is confident the players know each other well enough from playing together at previous tournaments and that it will not take them long to fully hit their stride.

The next test for the team will be when they take on Vietnam on Sunday, and he’s hopeful he can make another goal scoring contribution to the Olyroos’ cause.

“A lot of these players have been together before in previous camps and everyone knows how they play and everyone’s strengths,” he said.

“We’ve got a few different players who I haven’t played with, like Danny de Silva, and they’re adding more quality to our team creativity. I’m just happy we won.

“Now I just want to take each game as it comes. I’m in the team to score goals and hopefully I can keep contributing. I’m just focused on Vietnam and hopefully getting a couple more goals to my name.”



Photos: AFC