Trent Sainsbury says the Socceroos won’t be underestimating tournament surprise packets United Arab Emirates ahead of Tuesday’s Asian Cup semi-final blockbuster in Newcastle.
The Emiratis stunned Japan in an epic quarter final penalty shootout to book their spot in the last four and a shot at a first final appearance since 1996.
Striker Ali Mabkhout netted the crucial early goal against the Blue Samurai and Sainsbury was adamant the Socceroos won’t be making the same mistake.
“We’ll go out there with 100 per cent knowledge of what they’re going to bring at us and we’re going to be ready," Sainsbury told reporters in Newcastle on Sunday.
“We’re not going to take anything for granted, we know they’ve got a good strike force and it’s probably their main threat. We’ll study the tapes and the coach will have us prepared," said the defender.
Al Ain midfielder Omar Abdulrahman has starred for the Emiratis at the tournament and Sainsbury admitted the Socceroos will need to nullify the playmakers influence on Tuesday.
“He’s a great player, we’ve seen the talent he’s got so we’re going to have to keep a close eye on him,” he said.
“Obviously one man can’t win you the game. They’ve got a great team unity and you see the fans are just as passionate as the players. We’re going to have to be on top of our game to win.”
The venue for the semi-final has come under fire in the lead up to the match with just 23,000 fans able to witness the clash at Newcastle Stadium.
Some have called for the match to be taken to the much larger Stadium Australia in Sydney but Sainsbury dismissed claims that the Socceroos would lose an advantage.
“It doesn’t bother me. As long as we’re going out there on the pitch and giving 100% for the fans and the badge. The boys are going to give their all, it doesn’t matter where we play,” he said.
“At the same time UAE will have had a lot of fans there as well so it doesn’t really bother us.
“You’ve got a ball, you’ve got a pitch. We’re going to go out there and get the win.”
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.