EXCLUSIVE: ‘Ange our ace in the pack'

Ange Postecoglou might be one of the most inexperienced international managers at the World Cup but Mark Milligan believes the Socceroos mentor is their ace in the pack to cause a shock.

Postecoglou has only been at the helm of the Socceroos since October last year when German Holger Osieck was dumped after back-to-back 6-0 friendly defeats against Brazil and France.

If being tasked with regenerating a squad wasn't going to be a tough enough challenge in itself, doing it at the biggest tournament against Spain, Netherlands and Chile just added to the task.

In Brazil Postecoglou will pit his wits against some of the world's most decorated managers in Vicente Del Bosque (Spain), Louis van Gaal (Netherlands) and Jorge Sampaoli (Chile).

What the 48-year-old lacks in international coaching experience, Milligan is confident he makes up for in his meticulous preparation and approach.

"He portrays an element of confidence in what he's teaching us and you have no choice but to go along and believe in what he's saying," Milligan told www.socceroos.com.au .

"He's done a lot of things in his coaching career that give him a lot of credibility as well.

"It doesn't really matter about who we are coming up against, Ange has a lot of faith in what he does and it filters through to the players. That's a pretty good trait to have.

"The things he puts a cross to us in the training sessions, even though they are very hard they are also enjoyable because you are always doing things that you love and that's getting the ball on the floor and playing football.

"That's the best way to win a player over is to have good sessions and get good results when you go into matches."

Milligan has been lucky enough to work under Postecoglou at Melbourne Victory in the Hyundai A-League so knows the way he operates.

"He wants us on our toes all the time and whenever we step on the pitch we need to be training really hard," said the midfielder, who is at his third consecutive World Cup.

"From a tactical side of things, he showed from when he was at Brisbane to when he came to Victory there's a big difference in the way we did things to the way Brisbane did.

"He's flexible and has us prepared for every situation which you need to be, especially at a World Cup.

"It's all about working hard but you always know that with Ange in charge that there's thought behind everything that we do in preparation for the teams that are coming up."

The first of those at the tournament is South American giants Chile, who go into the World Cup in good form having out-played Germany, England and Egypt in recent friendlies.

Milligan spent the last season playing alongside a former Chilean great in Pablo Contreras and tried to pick his brain about the best way to tackle his countrymen.

"I tried to find out as much as I could but he (Contreras) just pretends he doesn't speak English every time I asked him," Milligan said with a smile.

"He didn't give too much away but he wasn't shy in asking about our secrets as well though.

"Pablo's a wonderful ambassador for Chilean football; he played a great deal of games for them.

"We did have the odd conversation about the way they do things. He's obviously very proud of his heritage and what he did for the national team.

"Whenever we did have conversations it was more about what he did for the team and his experiences and he pretty much trying to learn from the way he does things because he is a fantastic player."

Having not got any game time in his first two visits to the World Cup, Milligan is desperate to leave his mark on this tournament by playing a leading role in the Socceroos midfield.

With so many young faces in the squad, the 28-year-old is happy to take on a leadership role and set the example on the pitch and in training.

"I've worked with a few of the coaches here and understand the intensity they demand in training and things like that," Milligan said.

"If I can help the boys make sure they go into every day with a good attitude and help them get the best out of themselves, as well as myself, every day it’s probably where I will come into things a bit more.

"The older boys that are here have experienced it before and the young ones, I think that's the greatest asset apart from the talent they have, is that youthfulness.

"They look at things a lot differently to older players. They are all very confident in their ability and I guess that fearlessness they will take to the World Cup will be a benefit for us."

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