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The Asian Cup gains al­ti­tude in the UAE with the knock­out phase ap­proach­ing. If the Aussies hold to form in the Soc­ceroos vs Pales­tine (Jan 11) in Dubai and Soc­ceroos vs Syria (Jan 15) in Al Ain, a top-place fin­ish in Group B will lead to a roundof-16 match on Jan­uary 20. The Soc­ceroos will have to go with­out in­jured star Aaron Mooy (pic­tured), but they can rely on the fact that only eight teams of the 24 will fail to ad­vance out of group play, which will keep hopes alive and make for some messy, best-third-placer sce­nar­ios. In other news: the con­fed­er­a­tion an­nounced it will use VAR dur­ing the elim­i­na­tion rounds, so count on some na­tion or other be­ing let down by re­play on the road to the fi­nal (Feb 1) in Abu Dhabi.

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