The “fair dinkum” sporting contests at January’s Asian Cup will ignite the passion of Aussie sports fans this summer, predicts Socceroo coach Ange Postecoglou.
Speaking at the launch of the 100 days to go milestone for January's Cup, Postecoglou said the “theatre” of the Cup will add a compelling new flavour to the busy summer calendar of sport in this country.
And while the public may not yet quite grasp the magnitude of the Asian Cup, come January it will fire the imagination of Aussie sports fans, predicted the Australian coach.
“The thing about the Australian public is they love their sports, and for it to be fair dinkum,” he said.
“There won’t be any friendlies in these games. Regardless of who’s playing every contest will have a story and every contest will be willing because the smaller nations who’ve qualified for the Asian Cup, this is their pinnacle.
“They don’t get to World Cups so this is their opportunity for their glory, as we saw with Iraq two tournaments back.
“When the Australian public get a sense of that and the whole theatre of it, I’ve not doubt they’ll get behind it once the tournament is on.
“January will be an exciting time."
The Socceroos head to UAE and Qatar in two weeks to fine-tune their preparations for a tournament that’s expected to be viewed by almost a billion fans across Asia. And in November they head to Osaka for a clash with the Blue Samurai before going into camp in Melbourne in late December.
The Socceroos’ main focus will be on game one, January 9 at AAMI Park against the dangerous Kuwaitis - a nation that has already beaten Australia on home soil in recent years.
Australia then face Oman in Sydney and Korea Republic in Brisbane to round out Group A.
With that in mind, the Socceroos have eyes and ears across Asia scouting their Asian Cup opposition with Postecoglou leaving no stone unturned to ensure a successful tournament.
“Even pre-World Cup we scouted every Asian team at the World Cup. We’ve got people on the ground everywhere.
“We’re not underestimating the enormity of this challenge. There won’t be anything any Asian team has done over the last six months – whether they’re in our group or not – that we won’t know about. The one thing we won’t be short of is preparation.”
Postecoglou added over-confidence about winning the Cup would not play a part in his preparations. Far from it.
“One thing we won’t be doing is being that arrogant that we’re thinking about doing things before we’ve done the hard work.
“Our job is to prepare the team for a really, really tough tournament. Our focus in on preparing for that first game in Melbourne [against Kuwait].”
The Socceroos will be looking to win their first AFC Asian Cup when Asia’s biggest football tournament heads to Australia in January 2015.
32 matches over 23 days will be played in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle with the Socceroos kicking off the tournament against Kuwait in Melbourne on January 9.
Socceroos tickets start from $49 for adults and $24.50 for children. All other group matches start from just $15 for adults and $5 for children.
For more information visit www.afcasiancup.com