Milligan: Leckie’s return adds new dimension to Socceroos
Skipper Mark Milligan believes the return of Mat Leckie has brought another dimension to the Socceroos as they head into their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ Quarter Final against UAE.
Leckie missed the group stage of the tournament due to a hamstring injury, but came off the bench in the second half of Australia’s gripping penalty shootout win over Uzbekistan on Tuesday morning (AEDT).
The Hertha Berlin attacker gave Graham Arnold’s side a spark on his introduction, going on to slot the winning penalty in the shootout.
“Lecks has been a very important member of the team for a long time. His energy and he’s very direct as well,” Milligan told www.socceroos.com.au.
“I’m just happy for him that he was able to come back from his injury and get a good 60 minutes because he will play a big part for us going forward.
“He’s one of the boys that boosts the boys around him. I’m just glad to have him back and he’ll fit in and bring another dimension to this team.”
Tuesday morning’s (AEDT) thrilling penalty shootout win over the Uzbeks has set-up an Australia Day clash with the host nation, four years since the two sides met in the 2015 Semi Final in Newcastle.
On that occasion, roared on by a vocal home crowd, Australia stormed out of the blocks scoring two early goals on their way to a 2-0 win.
It will be a very different atmosphere at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Saturday morning (AEDT), with the UAE to enjoy the majority of the support in front of their home fans.
READ: Shootout star Ryan reflects on his 'Schwarzer moment'
LECKIE: 'I've never hit a penalty that good'
OPPOSITION CONFIRMED: Socceroos to face UAE in Quarter Finals
GALLERY: Leckie and Ryan the heroes for Socceroos against Uzbekistan
REPORT: Ryan the hero as Socceroos prevail in Round of 16 nail-biter
DOWNLOAD: Official Socceroos AFC Asian Cup wallpaper
But Milligan believes the expected strong crowd will bring out the best in his side.
“It will suit our boys, they’re quite used to playing in front of a lot of people. I think that atmosphere, while it might be hostile will give us a bit of extra drive and extra go in the match,” Milligan said.
“It’s a funny thing. Before the match you know (the crowd support) is not there for you but during the match it’s just noise.
“If you are able to focus on the match and channel that, it can definitely be helpful.
“We know we’ll have our little pocket of family and friends that have come over to support us. It’s a nice little stadium and I think the conditions will suit us.”
Milligan’s appearance against Uzbekistan was his 78th ‘A’ international.
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