Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou says winning the Asian Cup will be like nothing Australia has ever seen before and has called on the Sydney crowd to bring “the energy” needed to get them over the line.
The Socceroos booked their spot in Saturday night’s decider after a hard-earned 2-0 win over UAE in Tuesday night’s semi-final at a wet Newcastle Stadium.
Korea Republic, who beat the Socceroos in the group stage just 10 days ago, now stand between Australia and the first major piece of silverware for the men’s side.
“It’s a massive game. We made the final four years ago as well which was great for our nation but we’ve now been in Asia for a little while and we haven’t won anything in the men’s game yet,” Postecoglou said.
“This gives us an opportunity at a national level anyway to achieve something. It will be a big game, a sold out final, in a major tournament and we’re not going to host another one in our lifetime which is why it’s important for us.
“It’s been an outstanding tournament and great for our game and I think it would have put a dampener on it if we weren’t in the final.
“For us to be there is a great way to end up what’s going to be a fantastic tournament. You can always dream, if we win it, it will be one of the biggest games ever for our code and our country.
“But we’ve still got some steps to go first.”
The major step will be breaching a Korean outfit that has yet to concede in five games this tournament and will have the benefit of an extra days rest and recovery under their belt.
But with a sell-out crowd expect at Stadium Australia, the Socceroos boss hopes it will drive his side to find something more and give him one more big performance.
“It will make a difference for sure. To get into a final you put a lot of effort into it and again it will come down to moments in the game and if we have an 80000 strong crowd behind us they can generate the kind of energy we need,” he said.
“It’s fantastic. The Australian sporting public has really embraced the team, they’ve enjoyed the way we’ve played our football, and are really supporting the team.
“That’s generated a real good vibe around and the players can feel it, hopefully that can continue on Saturday night.”
The Socceroos set up the win over UAE with a scintillating early onslaught, scoring twice in the first 14 minutes through defenders Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson.
It was the pair’s first goal at international level and what a time to deliver.
“There’s been a lot of emphasis on Timmy (Cahill) but this tournament has shown we can score goals from other areas,” Postecoglou said.
“We’ve scored 12 goals in this tournament (and had 10 different scorers) and it’s a good sign, a real positive sign. We’ve never really thought it was just about Timmy, we knew building into this tournament if we played our football we’d get players into scoring position and that includes set pieces.”
The only slight area of concern heading into the final could be a hip problem for right-back Ivan Franjic who was noticeably hobbling towards the end of the match.
With Chris Herd ruled out of the tournament through injury, the Socceroos have no standout back-up at right-back with Mark Milligan likely to slot in if Franjic is unavailable.
But Postecoglou played down the issue, saying: “It’s the final of a major tournament so I reckon unless they chopped his leg off he’ll (Franjic) put his hand up to play.
“We’ll see how he settles down. I’m sure a few of the boys are sore because it was a tough game. We’re well into recovery mode now and getting ready for the final.”
Asked how he would keep a lid on the excitement with a final on home soil just days away, Postecoglou said: “We’ve worked hard to get to this spot and I want them to enjoy the week and it’s going to be an exciting few days. That’s what getting to a final is about.
“But walking in the dressing room now there’s no champagne corks popping, the players are already planning ahead and will want to finish the job.”
The Socceroos will face Korea Republic in the AFC Asian Cup Final at Stadium Australia on Saturday 31 January (8.00pm local kick off). Click here to purchase tickets.
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