SYDNEY (AP) Australia defender Brad Smith has been ruled out of a friendly international against Brazil and the Confederations Cup after injuring his hamstring in a World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia.
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Football Federation Australia on Sunday said Smith’s place in the squad will be taken by Alex Gersbach, who will join the team in Russia.
Smith plays for Bournemouth in the English Premier League.
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou says “it is not a serious injury, but the recovery time required for Brad to get back onto the pitch made it difficult for him to be ready for the bulk of this period … he is better off returning to the U.K. to start his rehab.”
Smith was replaced at halftime in Australia’s 3-2 win over Saudi Arabia last week. The Socceroos will play Brazil in Melbourne on Tuesday and then head to Europe, where they start their Confederations Cup campaign against Germany on June 19 at Sochi.
Five AFC nations are unbeaten and three are perfect after two days of the third and final round of World Cup qualifying for Asia.
The top two teams in Groups A and B will win automatic qualification to Russia 2018 once 10 games have been played, with the first two in the books for all 12 teams as of Tuesday morning.
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Who’s in the catbird seat and who has a ton of work to do? Read on…
Qatar 0-1 Uzbekistan
We told you the White Wolves were not to be slept on in our World Cup surprise teams post, and manager Samvel Babayan’s side is 2-0 thanks to consecutive 1-0 victories over Syria and Qatar. While admittedly two of the must-wins inside Group A, both jobs were handled. This one came courtesy an 86th minute goal from defender Egor Krimets of Beijing Guoan in the Chinese Super League.
UAE 0-1 Australia
After a road win over Japan, United Arab Emirates were hoping to put their stamp on Group B as upstarts. Unfortunately, there’s this fella named Tim Cahill who knows how to put himself in the right places at the right times. It was an ex-Merseyside connection that did the trick, as former Liverpool man Brad Smith — now with Bournemouth — played a terrific cross into the path of Cahill, whose 48th international goal stood as the winner.
Matchday 2 results
Iraq 1-2 Saudi Arabia
China 0-0 Iran
Syria 0-0 South Korea
Thailand 0-2 Japan