Kewell has sights set on quarters
Australian attacking lynchpin Harry Kewell has underlined the Socceroos’ determination to succeed at their first ever Asian Cup, despite unconvincing first-up displays against Oman and Iraq.
BANGKOK: Australian attacking lynchpin Harry Kewell has underlined the Socceroos- determination to succeed at their first ever Asian Cup, despite unconvincing first-up displays against Oman and Iraq.
Kewell is one of ten players to have started both of Australia-s Group A encounters, and one of only six to have played all 180 minutes of the Socceroos- brief Asian Cup history.
After nearly one year on the sidelines recovering from a litany of unfortunate injury concerns, Kewell has shown signs of adjusting to the unfamiliar surrounds of Bangkok-s Rajamangala Stadium, but, along with several of his team mates, will be hoping for an improved showing when Australia-s hopes of qualification for the quarter finals go on the line against Thailand on Monday.
“It-s disappointing obviously, we played our best but obviously it wasn-t good enough,” said Kewell following the Socceroos- 3-1 loss to Iraq.
“Against Thailand, we can only go out there and try to play better than we did today - we can-t even look forward to playing in the next round after the way we played this game here.”
Kewell, along with the rest of the Socceroos- starting eleven against Iraq, has been put on notice by coach Graham Arnold following what was another flat showing in the Thai capital last Friday.
Arnold-s charges have, for the most part, limped through their opening matches, with the Socceroos- only causes for celebration coming from Tim Cahill-s last minute intervention against Oman and captain Mark Viduka-s equaliser against Iraq.
Individually, wingback Brett Emerton was a standout against Iraq, while Cahill-s cameos coupled with encouraging contributions from the likes of Mark Schwarzer in game one and Viduka in game two are certainly cause for optimism.
However, Monday-s match against the co-hosts will almost certainly provide the Socceroos with their toughest test yet.
Thailand is flying high following their 2-0 triumph over Oman on Thursday and their preceding 1-1 draw with Iraq in the tournament-s opening match.
The co-hosts chances at these championships were largely dismissed prior to the tournament and justifiably so, with the Thai-s Asian Cup record reading only one progression past the group stage from five previous attempts.
Such has been Thailand-s form; the coy support originally offered by Bangkok-s football-mad community has swelled to a vociferous roar, and one would expect the 60,000 capacity Rajamangala National Stadium to be near-full on Monday - the majority of which truly believing that the Thailand national team are on the verge of achieving something very special.
Indeed, the Socceroos- backs are, as they say, against the wall - more so than they have ever been in recent memory.
“You can-t blame the referee, you can-t blame the manager, you can-t blame anyone, the only people that you can blame are the eleven players that are out there, and we weren-t good enough, it-s as simple as that,” said Kewell.
“The players need to pull their finger out and I-m no exception, I think if you look at my own performance, it was poor.
“We-ve got to sit down, we-ve only got a few days to turn this around and we have to.”
Australia-s Asian Cup hopes go on the line against co-hosts Thailand this coming Monday, 16 July. Kick off at the Rajamangala Stadium for Australia-s final Group A match is at 10.35pm AEST.
Fox Sports will feature live and exclusive coverage of the match from 10.30pm AEST. Click here for the entire Fox Sports broadcast schedule.