World: Asian Cup
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M. Boyle (45)
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By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

St. Pauli duo and Australia advance to AFC knockouts as group winners

FC St. Pauli's two Australian representatives Jackson Irvine and Connor Metcalfe are through to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup knockouts as group winners following a 1-1 draw with Uzbekistan on Tuesday. 
Having already secured passage to the Round-of-16 in their second group stage fixture, Graham Arnold's Australian Socceroos have now obtained top seeding as group winners after drawing their final group match against Uzbekistan. The Aussies were once again aided by the "Kiezkicker" duo of Jackson Irvine and Connor Metcalfe. Irvine started for the third consecutive match while Metcalfe logged 18 minutes off the bench.

Arnold rotated his squad in the final group stage encounter, yet left Irvine in the starting XI and kept him on the pitch for the full 90 minutes. Irvine wasn't able to score for the third straight match. Irvine and the rest of the side took their foot off the gas pedal somewhat after a Martin Boyle converted penalty in  first half injury time allowed them to take a 1-0 lead. As a result, the Uzbek "White Wolves" were able to equalize late.

The draw proved sufficient for the 2015 continental champions to advance to the Round-of-16 as group winners. The Uzbeks are also through as the second place finishers, as are Group B's third-place finishers Syria courtesy of a 1-0 win over India in the concurrent kickoff. Australia and Uzbekistan also drew their 2019 Round-of-16 encounter, with Arnold's side advancing on penalties.

The third German club representative on the Aussie roster - John Iredale of SV Wehen Wiesbaden - still awaits his first minutes of the competition.The 24-year-old has made all three bench squads, but remained in Arnold's dugout on all three occasions. If eventually introduced, the former Wolfsburg II and SC Paderborn striker will earn his first senior team cap.

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