Chris Ikonomidis has continued his brilliant Hyundai A-League form with the Socceroos, with no player at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ providing more assists than the Perth Glory attacker.
Along with Sydney FC right-back Rhyan Grant, who has delivered more successful crosses than anyone at the tournament, the Hyundai A-League duo have been outstanding in the group stage.
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And they’re likely to be pivotal to the Socceroos’ hopes as Graham Arnold’s side prepare for next Tuesday’s (AEDT) Round of 16 clash against either Uzbekistan or Japan.
Ahead of the start of the knockout phase, Opta highlights how Australia’s Hyundai A-League players have performed so far.
Game 1: Socceroos 0-1 Jordan
Western Sydney Wanderers right-back Josh Risdon was the sole starter of the Hyundai A-League trio in the tournament opener, but unfortunately was forced off at half-time through injury.
He was replaced by Grant who made quite an impact down the right as the Socceroos did their best to get back into the match.
Ikonomidis also looked threatening with his pace and movement when he was introduced into the fray in the second-half, but Australia were unable to find an equaliser in the 1-0 defeat.
Game 2: Socceroos 3-0 Palestine
While Risdon was unavailable through injury, both Ikonomidis and Grant were promoted to the starting XI by Arnold for the must-win clash in Dubai.
And the Glory winger made the most of his inclusion, providing the final pass for Awer Mabil and Apostolos Giannou strikes to kick-start his impressive assists tally for the tournament.
Ikonomidis played with tremendous freedom and purpose, and was at the heart of many of Australia’s attacks.
Only Qatar’s Akram Hassan Afif (10) has created more scoring chances than Ikonomidis (eight) at the tournament so far.
Ikonomidis' tally has him ahead of the likes of Bahrain playmaker Komail Alaswad (seven) and Japanese star Genki Haraguchi with six.
Grant also put in an excellent display at right back, getting forward at every opportunity.
It was one of his overlapping runs that almost resulted in another goal in the second half, with his low cross deflecting off a defender before hitting the crossbar.
Grant is the only player at the tournament to have made six successful crosses to a teammate, ahead of Korea Republic's Lee Yong (five).
Game 3: Socceroos 3-2 Syria
Needing a draw to ensure their spot in the knockout phase of the tournament, both Ikonomidis and Grant retained their starting spots for the clash with the Syrians.
In a match that went from end-to-end, Grant not only performed his defensive duties excellently with five clearances but also maintained his threat going forward.
The Sky Blues right-back was involved in a couple of dangerous Socceroos attacks, taking his tally to four for creating chances at the tournament.
That number ranks Grant as fifth best defender in terms of creating scoring chances, one behind Socceroos teammate Aziz Behich (five) and two behind leader Sayed Redha Isa of Bahrain.
Besides his attacking attributes, Grant has also performed strongly in other areas, with a passing accuracy of 82% for his 101 passes, while he's won seven of 10 duels contested.
But it was Ikonomidis who again stole the show in an attacking sense.
Not only did the Glory star open his scoring account for the tournament with an assured finish from close range, he also set-up Australia’s other two goals for Mabil and Tom Rogic.
It means Ikonomidis has been directly involved in five goals during the group stage.
Only Qatar's Almoez Ali (6; five goals, one assist) has been directly involved in more than the Australian.
Ikonomidis has had 20 touches in the opposition box in the group stage, with six of his nine shots on target.