The Socceroos’ round of 16 opponent has been confirmed with Graham Arnold’s men to take on Uzbekistan on Tuesday morning Australian time.
Prior to the tournament, the concerns surrounding Australia’s attacking stocks were many. The team was struggling to score from open play in tournament settings.
Injuries slowly picked off players one by one: Daniel Arzani, Aaron Mooy, Mat Leckie, and Martin Boyle.
Who would step up? Who would provide that spark that Arzani and Boyle in particular provided in their few starts for the national team?
Awer Mabil and Chris Ikonomidis have more than stepped up to the plate. The pair have been lively, exciting and, perhaps most importantly, creating and scoring goals.
Both have been in outstanding form for their clubs in Denmark and Australia respectively and thankfully for ‘Roos fans, this has translated across to the national team.
They have both found the back of the net and together have contributed half of Australia’s total goals at the tournament; Ikonomidis one and Mabil two.
The Perth Glory star is equal first for assists in the tournament with four and equal second for chances created with eight.
While Mabil has had nine shots on target, the equal fifth best in the competition.
The FC Midtjylland man has shown himself to be just as brilliant off the park as he is on it, with his signature celebration a nod to those suffering from mental illness.
These two have been the shining lights and those around them are starting to find their groove, as well.
Tom Rogic was brilliant against Syria, exhibiting the kind of quality that fans are so used to seeing him show in a Celtic shirt, and both Jamie Maclaren and Apostolos Giannou have gotten off the mark, allaying some fears about the number nine role and the post-Cahill era.
Despite these positives, there are still some concerns about the Socceroos as a whole. Will the progress that has been made be enough to see the team through to the quarter finals?
Will we see a repeat of Australia’s 6-0 drubbing of Uzbekistan in the quarter final of the 2011 edition of the cup? Probably not.
But after the disappointment of the World Cup, this tournament has already unearthed positives.