The Socceroos are hoping to win without the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system playing any factor when they face hosts, the United Arab Emirates, in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup in the early hours of Saturday.
The VAR system is being introduced into the Asian Cup for the first time from the quarter-final stage onwards after not being involved in the group stages or round of 16 fixtures.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is not concerning himself about the system, emphasising his players need to make their situation against the UAE isn’t so precarious that it is affected by a refereeing decision.
“Our main thing is we don’t discuss that,” Arnold said.
“We want to take everything out of the referee’s hands with a great performance and some goals to boot.”
— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) January 23, 2019
The controversial system has made headlines once again for the wrong reasons in the A-League after a decision not to award a penalty for handball against Wellington’s Louis Fenton in the opening half of Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Sydney FC on Wednesday.
Socceroos players are confident the system will avoid similar controversy in the Asian Cup.
“When they spoke to us before the tournament they said the operators of the VAR were going to be the same ones that operated the World Cup,” captain Mark Milligan said.
“I think it will hopefully help us a lot. It’s always hard playing away from home, so it’ll be good to have someone watching over everything.”
Central defender Milos Degenek welcomed the system’s arrival but was at a loss to understand why it wasn’t being implemented from the start of the tournament.
“It’s quite similar in the Champions League as well. In Europe it’s not in the group stage but from the knockout stages the VAR is in,” Degenek said.
“Maybe they think these games as you get closer to the end of the tournament, they’re obviously important and you’re getting closer to the final, but I believe every game has equal importance or equal value.”
HOW VAR WILL WORK AT THE ASIAN CUP
- * VAR will only look at four “match-changing decisions/incidents” including goal or no goal calls, penalty kick decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity
- * VAR officials can request an incident review but only the on-field referee can initiate a review
- * The referee can either make a decision on the information from the VAR or review the footage at a pitch side monitor.
- * The decision can only be changed if there is a clear and obvious error highlighted by the viewed footage.
- * If the VAR system malfunctions the match continues as normal without it.