Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou hailed his side’s tough 2-0 quarter-final win over a disciplined Chinese side, but used his post-match press conference to hit out at critics.
After Australia’s 1-0 loss to South Korea in their final Asian Cup group game, questions were raised as to whether Postecoglou was right to rest several of his key attacking players, including Tim Cahill, the man who made all the difference against China.
A win or draw against South Korea would have seen the Socceroos finish top of the group and avoid a potential encounter with Japan in Newcastle for a place in the final.
The 49-year-old coach insisted, however, his player management was the very reason the side had made it through to the semi-finals.
“I still shake my head sometimes with some of the things I hear or read,” Postecoglou said.
“The reason Timmy does so fantastically well for us is because we manage him really well.
“We rested him against Korea because we knew that this game was going to be important and we saw tonight that in the penalty box he is still world class.
“And same with Bresh (Mark Bresciano), he was unlucky not to get the goal, but we needed experience tonight, and those two and Mile (Jedinak), he worked his way into the game, I thought those three were really good.”
When asked about the challenges facing his team at the business end of the tournament, Postecoglou once again focussed on the naysayers.
He did maintain that Socceroos fans appreciated the way the team is performing, though.
“The only challenge I see is that I’m continually having to say the same story and it’s frustrating the hell out of me because people can’t see what I see in this team.
“Well, I think the supporters do, the fans understand that this is an exciting team.
“For people to be talking about what happens if we get eliminated tonight, seriously.
“We started something 14 months ago and I reckon we’ve stuck to that plan.
“I’ll be held accountable if we ever move away from that plan, but we’ve stuck to that plan and we’re delivering
“The only challenge I see is making sure that the players in the dressing room don’t limit their potential by listening to a lot of the crap that comes in from the outside.”
The Socceroos will face Japan or UAE in the Semi-Finals of the AFC Asian Cup at Newcastle Stadium on Tuesday 27 January (8.00pm local kick off). Click Here to purchase tickets.