2019 Asian Cup Group B: Teams, fixtures and key players

A breakdown of the teams in Group B – defending champions Australia, Jordan, Palestine and Syria – and what we can expect from each at the January 5-February 1 tournament

Australia's captain Mile Jedinak (5th L) holds up the AFC Asian Cup football trophy after beating South Korea at Stadium Australia in Sydney on January 31, 2015.   AFP PHOTO / Saeed KHAN 
-- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE / AFP PHOTO / SAEED KHAN
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Australia

Fifa world ranking: 41

Ranking in Asia: 2

Previous Asian Cups: 3

Best Asian Cup performance: Champions (2015)

2015 Asian Cup: Champions

Nickname: Socceroos

Manager: Graham Arnold

Captain: Mark Milligan

Player to watch: Martin Boyle

Fixtures: January 6 v Jordan (Al Ain); January 11 v Palestine (Dubai); January 15 v Syria (Al Ain)

A new-look Australia will seek the consolation of a successful Asian Cup title defence after their disappointing group stage exit from the World Cup this year.

Under Bert van Marwijk, the Socceroos bowed out of Russia winless and with only two goals from penalties, underlining the team's struggles to score against quality defences.

New manager Graham Arnold, in his second stint in charge, has shaken up the team's attacking formation. He has opted for a trio of interchangeable strikers up front rather than a traditional centre forward.

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Jordan

Fifa world ranking: 109

Ranking in Asia: 19

Previous Asian Cups: 3

Best Asian Cup performance: Quarter-finals (2004, 2011)

2015 Asian Cup: Group stage

Nickname: The Chivalrous

Manager: Vital Borkelmans

Captain: Amer Shafi

Player to watch: Munther Abu Amarah

Fixtures: January 9 v Australia (Al Ain); January 10 v Syria (Al Ain); January 15 v Palestine (Abu Dhabi)

Jordan will be looking to have a similar impact to the one on their Asian Cup debut in 2004, when the country pushed defending champions Japan to the brink of elimination in the quarter-finals.

New manager Vital Borkelmans has had limited time with his team, who have been handed a difficult draw. But, having defeated Australia earlier in qualifying, the west Asian nation will be confident their robust football will pay dividends.

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Abdelatif Bahdari (R) of Palestine fights for the ball with Ahmed Shafiu (L) of the Maldives during the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers football match between Palestine and the Maldives in Male on March 28, 2017. (Photo by - / AFP)

Palestine

Fifa world ranking: 99

Ranking in Asia: 16

Previous Asian Cups: 1

Best Asian Cup performance: Group stage (2015)

2015 Asian Cup: Group stage

Nickname: The Knights

Manager: Noureddine Ould Ali

Captain: Abdelatif Bahdari

Player to watch: Abdelatif Bahdari

Fixtures: January 6 v Syria (Sharjah); January 11 v Australia (Dubai); January 15 v Jordan (Abu Dhabi)

Palestine have qualified for the Asian Cup for the second tournament in a row after securing their spot at the 2015 finals by winning the AFC Challenge Cup in the Maldives a year earlier.

This time the west Asian side have progressed through the regular qualifying campaign and will hope to have shaken off the issues that hampered them late in the campaign.

Bolivian manager Julio Cesar Baldevisieo controversially replaced Abdel Nasser Barakat, only to be fired himself and replaced by Noureddine Ould Ali.

Omar Al Somah of Syria (L) celebrates a penalty goal with a teammate against Australia during the 2018 World Cup qualifying football match between Syria and Australia at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca on October 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN

Syria

Fifa world ranking: 74

Ranking in Asia: 6

Previous Asian Cups: 5

Best Asian Cup performance: Group stage (1980, 1984, 1988, 1996, 2011)

2015 Asian Cup: Did not qualify

Nickname: Qasioun Eagles

Manager: Bernd Stange

Captain: Omar Al Somah

Player to watch: Omar Kharbin

Fixtures: January 6 v Palestine (Sharjah); January 10 v Jordan (Al Ain); January 15 v Australia (Al Ain)

Bernd Stange has one goal above all others when he leads Syria to the finals of the Asian Cup next month - to put a smile back on the faces of the country's war-ravaged people.

The veteran German manager was lured out of retirement this year to take charge of the Syrians as they seek to build on their remarkable run to the verge of qualifying for their first World Cup finals last year.

While a play-off loss at the hands of Australia ended those hopes, the 70 year old is hoping to revive memories of that campaign at the continental championship in January.

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