Socceroo shot-stopper Mat Ryan says Tuesday night’s Asian Cup semi-final against UAE is one of the biggest games of his career and believes the home support will get the team across the line.
Ange Postecoglou’s men are just 90 minutes away from a second consecutive appearance in Asia’s continental showpiece and a confident Ryan admitted it was up there with any game he’s played in.
“Yeah, a massive game. One of the biggest in my career. It’s never going to happen again in my lifetime for an Asian Cup to be hosted here in Australia,” he said.
“It’s been the talk from day one with such a massive tournament here at home and so far we’ve taken advantage of the home support. We’ll be looking for that to continue on Tuesday night.
“We’re not taking a backward step or taking our mind off the job yet. We’re just getting the preparations done for the game and hopefully give Australia another win.”
Ryan has arguably been the form goalkeeper at the tournament and his heroics have seen his name linked with a potential move to English Premier League giants Liverpool.
The Club Brugge goalkeeper admitted he was pleased with his performances in the competition but insists his focus is squarely centred on the clash with the UAE.
“Yeah obviously it sits nicely. I don’t want to reflect too early because the tournament is still well and truly alive at the moment,” he said.
“We have hopefully two more games. My focus and the team’s focus turns to Tuesday night and you’re only as good as your next performance.
Australia will start as warm favourites against the UAE but Ryan is adamant the Socceroos won’t be underestimating the tournament surprise-packets.
“They’ve beaten quality opposition so they’ve got nothing to lose now. They did the job against Japan and they were the hot favourites for the tournament in a lot of people’s eyes,” he said.
“Their front four have got a tremendous amount of skill and pace. They’ve got that quality and it’s going to be difficult to breach their defence.
“But we can only focus on ourselves, I’m pretty confident our squad can overcome UAE on Tuesday.”
The Socceroos have kept two clean sheets in their four matches to date but a lapse in concentration proved decisive in Australia’s only loss in tournament, a 1-0 defeat to Korea Repubic.
Ryan says the Socceroos have worked hard to tighten up their defensive shape and is confident the team will hold sway against a dangerous Emirati attack.
“The Korea game showed us that at this level it can happen anytime. Our focus and concentration for the majority of the game against China was very good and we didn’t switch off,” he said.
“We’re doing a lot better defensively and we’re growing and growing with each game. Hopefully we can take another step towards more improvement in the next game.”
The Socceroos play the United Arab Emiriates in the Semi-Finals of the AFC Asian Cup on Tuesday 27 January with the match to be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports 505 and LIVE on ABC from 8pm AEDT.
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