Ange Postecoglou says facing England is an ‘exciting’ challenge for his Caltex Socceroos as they prepare for the highly-anticipated clash against the old enemy later this month.
Speaking at the announcement of his 23-man squad on Wednesday, the Socceroos boss says the clash with world’s 10th-ranked nation would be a huge test for his side.
England will be busily preparing for the upcoming European Championships in France and will feature a squad containing the likes of Leicester City star Jamie Vardy and Tottenham’s prolific marksman Harry Kane.
But testing themselves against the very best is what Postecoglou and his squad thrive on and he’s looking forward to the challenge at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on May 28 (AEST).
“It means something to our players and our fans. To play England over there is a fantastic opportunity to test ourselves against a team that’s heading off to the Euros [European Championships] and is in very good form.
“It’s an exciting fixture. The Premier League gets a lot of coverage over here so the public are familiar with the players we’re up against. “For us, it’s more about making sure we take the opportunity to progress our football and make sure we use these friendly games to make sure we’re ready for what’s ahead and that’s the qualifiers for the [FIFA] World Cup.”
It’s been 13 years since the two nation’s last meet, with the Socceroos springing a huge upset at Upton Park by beating Sven Goran Eriksson’s men 3-1.
That result sent shockwaves around the world as the Aussies crushed an England side featuring the likes of David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen.
A repeat of that result – especially with so many new faces in the Australian squad – would be widely viewed as a similar upset for the Socceroos but Postecoglou doesn’t see it that way.
“Hopefully we’re past trying to get feathers in caps in friendlies. Our football has progressed since then…a feather in our cap would be to beat England or a team like England at a World Cup,” he said.
“We’re more than recognised now as a footballing country. Friendly games are very important for preparing teams for what’s ahead, and for us it’s the World Cup qualifiers.
“If we win I don’t think it will necessarily be a feather in our cap. What’s more important is we play well and continue progressing our football. As a nation now we should be looking for feathers in caps in major tournaments rather than friendly games.
“As a team we want to progress and test our football against quality opposition,” he added.
“Can our football stand up against the best when we get to a World Cup? That’s what we’ll do on the day and hopefully it measures up.”
Postecoglou said he expects England to take a no-holds-barred approach to this clash, with a full-strength squad likely to be used in the pre-Euro 2016 match.
“They will be using these games to get themselves ready for a major tournament which I’m sure they will want to do well in. It’s part of the reason I wanted this fixture was because we’re going to get a great test,” Postecoglou said.
“It’s hard to play away from home at the best of times but when a team is on the cusp of a major tournament you know they are going to be taking it very seriously.
“The reason they want to play us is because they want us to test them out and I’m sure that’s what we’ll do on the day.”