Mat Leckie hasn’t played in a final before. So Saturday night’s Asian Cup final will be extra special for the Socceroo striker who admits he was very tired after Australia’s 2-0 semi-final win over UAE in Newcastle.
Leckie played a key role in the attacking third as well as doing his fair share of defensive work against an attacking UAE line-up who came back strongly after conceding two early goals.
“All games are taxing in their own ways but for me it was pretty tough tonight,” Leckie told reporters after the game.
“Because we didn’t have so much control of the game. Their full backs were overlapping which meant I had to drop off as well.
"For me it was one of the toughest games so far. I was happy to go back and defend for the team because it’s what’s needed to be done. I’m a bit tired, my legs are sore,” he said.
The early goals from Jason Davidson and Trent Sainsbury gave the Aussies the upper hand. Though Leckie admits it wasn’t the most decisive performance by the Green and Gold.
“We’ve been very attacking in every game we’ve played. We scored very early this time compared to the other games but I think overall it wasn’t the best game for us. But we ground out a result. Sometimes games can’t be as pretty as you want them to be.
“In every game so far we’ve created enough chances to score two goals early. But today was the day they both went in. It was a bit of a shock. We always know in the attacking third we’ll get our chances.”
Leckie and the Socceroos now have important recovery work ahead of the final in Sydney this Saturday night – his first final.
As for playing a side in the final that beat the Socceroos in the group stage - a 1-0 loss - that could be a blessing in disguise, said Leckie.
" We were probably the best side on the night [in the group stage loss], we just couldn’t put the chances away, so what we need to make sure is to create chances and keep possession and keep them moving. Be more clinical on the night.
"It’s better that we lost to them in the group stage. We just can’t let that happen again in the final. We’ve just got to be clinical and take our chances."
Little wonder the German based striker says it’s his biggest ever game.
“Club football is one thing but national team it’s the biggest thing for me and a lot of us here. I’ve never been in a final. So I’m very excited."
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.
New dawn, new goal-scoring style says Arnold
Australia coach Graham Arnold has declared his Caltex Socceroos side will look to develop a new style in order to score more goals ahead of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. It’s something of a new dawn for international football in Australia, with the FIFA World Cup™ in the rear-view m
Caltex Socceroos to face Korea Republic in Brisbane in November
Football Federation Australia (FFA), the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council today announced that the Caltex Socceroos will host Korea Republic in an international friendly match at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday, 17 November 2018. FFA CEO David Gallop was
How to get your tickets to see the Caltex Socceroos' play Korea Republic
Don’t miss your first chance to see Graham Arnold’s new look Caltex Socceroos live in action in Australia. Australia head to Brisbane for the first time since 2015 to take on Asian football powerhouse Korea Republic. ANNOUNCEMENT: A new era rises in Graham Arnold's first ma
A long standing rivalry: Caltex Socceroos’ history against Korea Republic
The Caltex Socceroos are set to fine-tune their preparations for their AFC Asian Cup title defence next year with a high-profile friendly against the Korea Republic in Brisbane. These two nations have forged quite a rivalry over the years – who could forget their last meeting