Phoenix starlet Piscopo nets outrageous free kick as Australia U-23's draw with Iraq

Wellington Phoenix attacker Reno Piscopo scored a stunning free kick but a late Iraq equaliser ensured Australia U-23's national team opened their AFC U-23 Championship campaign with a 1-1 draw.

Graham Arnold's side were on course to open their Group A account with three points after Phoenix starlet Piscopo - who was named the Hyundai A-League's Young Footballer of the month for December - opened the scoring with a remarkable long-range effort just over the hour mark.

However, Iraq replied via substitute Mohammad Qasem's strike as the two sides were forced to settle for a share of the spoils at the Thammasat Stadium, Pathum Thani, Thailand.

Australia dominated the possession early and Piscopo dragged a sighting wide after Sydney FC's Trent Buhagiar found the Phoenix attacker coming in alone at the back post, while Adelaide United striker Al Hassan Toure had the ball in the net only for the goal to be ruled out because of an infringement Buhagiar had made on Iraq midfielder Abdulabbas Ayad Khalaf Albu-Darray in the lead up.

READ: Australia’s U-23 men’s football team pledge support to Australia’s Bushfire Appeal
WATCH: Australia’s Group A games shown on My Football YouTube Channel & Kayo Sports


Piscopo continued to threaten the Iraq defence and rolled in another effort which narrowly missed after being set up by Gabriel Cleur, while an ambitious try from Aidan O'Neill flew over the crossbar.

Sadeq Zamil had headed an early corner opportunity off target and Hussain Jabar's free kick sailed wide of Thomas Glover's post but the Australia U-23 and Melbourne City 'keeper was otherwise relatively untroubled in the Australia goal as the two teams broke for the interval.

Arnold's side continued to pressure the Iraq goal after the break and would find the breakthrough through Piscopo's moment of magic.

Having been tripped outside the box by Mohammed Ridha Jalil, Piscopo thrashed the resulting set-piece into the top right hand corner, leaving Iraq shotstopper Ali Kadhim Hadi with no chance. 

Australia looked to double their advantage but were left to rue a turnover which allowed Qasem to pounce and curled the ball past Glover to equaliser on 79 minutes.

Arnold's men mustered a late pash with Dylan Ryan's header coming off the foot of the post as the two sides settled for an opening point. 


There are 14 Hyundai A-League players in Australia's 23-player squad at the AFC U-23 Championship, which sees the green and gold competing for a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games alongside 15 other Asian nations. 

Australia’s Group A games will be streamed on the My Football YouTube Channel and shown on Kayo Sports.

The top three nations at the AFC U-23 Championship Thailand 2020 (excluding Japan) will secure a place as one of Asia’s representatives in the men’s football competition at the forthcoming Tokyo Games. 

Australia U-23 Men’s National Team Squad | AFC U-23 Championship Thailand 2020

Name

Club, Country

Keanu BACCUS

Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia

Daniel BOUMAN

SC Cambuur, Netherlands

Trent BUHAGIAR

Sydney FC, Australia

Gabriel CLEUR

U.S. Alessandria, Italy

Nicholas D’AGOSTINO

Perth Glory FC, Australia

Thomas DENG

Melbourne Victory, Australia

Zach DUNCAN

AGF Aarhus, Denmark

Ben FOLAMI

Ipswich Town FC, England

Denis GENREAU

Melbourne City FC, Australia

Alex GERSBACH

AGF Aarhus, Denmark

Thomas GLOVER (Gk)

Melbourne City FC, Australia

Jordan HOLMES (Gk)

Ebbsfleet United FC, England

Jacob ITALIANO

Borussia Monchengladbach, Germany

Joshua LAWS

Fortuna Dusseldorf II, Germany

Daniel MARGUSH (Gk)

Adelaide United, Australia

Connor METCALFE

Melbourne City FC, Australia

Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS

Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia

Ramy NAJJARINE

Melbourne City FC, Australia

Aiden O’NEILL

Brisbane Roar FC, Australia

Connor O’TOOLE

Brisbane Roar FC, Australia

Reno PISCOPO

Wellington Phoenix FC, Australia

Dylan RYAN

Willem II Tilburg, Netherlands

Al Hassan TOURE

Adelaide United, Australia


Australia U-23 v Thailand U-23 – AFC U-23 Championship Thailand 2020
Date: Saturday, 11 January 2020
Venue: Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand
Kick-off: 8.15pm (local); 12.15am + 1 (Sunday, 12 January AEDT)
Click here for tickets
Broadcast: MyFootball YouTube Channel, Kayo Sports

Australia U-23 v Bahrain U-23 – AFC U-23 Championship Thailand 2020
Date: Tuesday, 14 January 2020
Venue: Thammasat Stadium, Pathum Thani, Thailand
Kick-off: 8.15pm (local); 12.15am +1 (Wednesday, 15 January AEDT)
Click here for tickets
Broadcast: MyFootball YouTube Channel, Kayo Sports