Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has declared his team’s morale is high in the lead-up to the opening match of the Asian Cup against Kuwait.
Postecoglou praised his charges for their attitude in the build up to the tournament, despite of a poor run of results and the country’s FIFA ranking dropping to a lowly 100.
“The spirit’s very good at the moment. Our performances and results have been fairly patchy over the last couple of months. Coming here on the first day of camp I could see they were comfortable, coming in comfortable with the environment and there was a general excitement about playing at home,” Postecoglou said.
“I can’t fault them, I can’t question the player’s commitment in terms of mentally dealing with the pressure.”
The Australians have played at home just twice in the last 14 months, and Postecoglou believed the advantage of playing in front of their own fans would give the team an extra boost.
“For a lot of them, they’ll have only played a handful of games actually at home,” he said. “I’m excited for it too. I haven’t had too many games at home since I’ve been in charge. Part of the thrill of being involved is being able to play in front of your won supporters, your family, your friends.”
In recent months, the Socceroos have been criticized for their below-par form in the lead up to the tournament and their world ranking plummeting to new depths. But Postecoglou is confident the team has adapted well to the rigours of international football and would be firing on all cylinders come Friday night.
“The guys know what will cut it and we played some tough opponents, all away from home. The players know how hard international football is and how demanding it is and I think they’ve had to learn very quickly.
“It’s absolutely irrelevant whether we’re ranked one or ranked one hundred. It’s our first game of a major tournament and a tournament we’re hosting. Our attempt is to try and be successful. We’ll be happy if we come out, play well and get three points.”
Despite their poor form, the Australians will still enter the tournament as one of the favourites, alongside the likes of Japan, South Korea and Iran. But one man who certainly isn’t getting ahead of himself is the captain Mile Jedinak. The influential skipper is not dreaming of lifting the cup just yet and is fully focused on the opening game.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself to look further than the first game. I’ve never done that. I don’t think it’s right to do so,” he said.
“We’ve got to focus on Kuwait and then Oman and after that, the Korea Republic. Beyond that, we’ve got to wait and see. The one opponent in our way at the moment is Kuwait, and that’s who we have to provide our undivided attention towards.”
Jedinak added he couldn’t wait to see the support from the home fans and said it was a real chance for the entire country to shine.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase our country. It’s something that everybody who has been involved around the squad is really excited about it and looking forward to.
“Football in Australia is a sleeping giant. Hopefully now, everybody can see, the country’s ready to host such an important tournament.”