Nikolai Topor-Stanley believes Western Sydney Wanderers FC’s incredible ACL triumph should give the Socceroos the belief they can lift the Asian Cup on home soil in January.
Topor-Stanley led the Wanderers to Asia’s biggest club title earlier this month with a remarkable victory over two legs against Saudi Arabian giants Al-Hilal.
Now in camp in Osaka with the Socceroos ahead of next week’s friendly against Japan, the 29-year-old hopes his club side’s success can transfer to the national team.
Asked by FFA TV if the Wanderers’ achievement proves Australian players can mix it with the best in Asia, Topor-Stanley declared: “Absolutely. We should set the highest standards possible of ourselves.
“We’ve got great talent here. As long as we harness that then the sky’s the limit.
“We should go into this Asian Cup with a winning mentality and that’s to be lifting that trophy.”
After a goalless draw with UAE and 1-0 defeat to Qatar in the side’s most recent friendlies last month, Topor-Stanley says it’s vital the squad gets some more fluidity in their game against Japan.
Ange Postecoglou’s side have managed just one victory since the World Cup, raising concerns about the Socceroos’ prospects in the Asian Cup.
Next Tuesday’s friendly is the side’s final serious hit-out before they open the tournament against Kuwait in Melbourne in less than two months’ time.
“(Japan will) be a good team, there’s no doubt about that. But we can’t play with any fear, we need to go out and show we can mix and more than mix it,” Topor-Stanley said.
“We should be aiming to hurt them where we can and I’m sure we’ll be doing that.”
Fellow central defender Alex Wilkinson, fresh from winning the K-League title with Jeonbuk Motors last weekend, feels the Socceroos are on the right track despite their recent struggles getting results.
“Over the last year we’ve played some very good nations on their home soil and Japan’s another one we’re coming up against,” Wilkinson said.
“Come January, all the games we’ve played over the last year against these good opponents will hold us in good stead.
“This game is another stepping stone is of where we need to be in January and it’s great we’ve got a week’s training here in Osaka before the game.”