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.
Aussies Abroad: Jeggo stars in Vienna derby, Ryan edged by Chelsea in Premier League
A clean sheet, a title race and a derby goal headlined an action-packed night for our overseas Australians. In Austria, James Jeggo opened his account for the season in Austria Wien’s 6-1 hammering of Rapid Wien in the Vienna derby. DEGENEK REFLECTS: Caltex Socceroos defend
Aussies Abroad: Luongo, Irvine help sides to important Championship wins
Massimo Luongo and Jackson Irvine both braved atrocious English weather to help steer their sides to Championship victories on Sunday morning (AEDT). And in warmer temperatures, Matt Jurman’s Al Ittihad broke through for their first win of the Saudi Arabia Pro League season at
Degenek not taking his foot off the gas
Twelve months ago, Caltex Socceroos defender Milos Degenek was playing in Japan — now, he’s tearing up Serbia’s SuperLiga, having been named in the league’s best eleven for the first half of the season. It’s a credit to Degenek, 24, who signed with Red Star Belgrade in July
Degenek named in Serbian Superliga's best XI
Caltex Socceroos defender Milos Degenek has been named in the Serbian Superliga’s best eleven players of the first half of the season after his performances for Red Star Belgrade. AUSSIES ABROAD: Sainsbury denies former club Inter in first UCL start READ MORE: Where you can w