2015 was a great year for Aussie soccer fans. It was the year that the country hosted the AFC Asian Cup, which was the biggest football tournament ever held in Australia. This comes in the backdrop of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. So, Asian Cup won’t have come at a better since soccer excitement in the country was still high.
Under the leadership of Ange Postecoglou, the team hadn’t won any match in group stages. Grouped alongside world football heavyweights (Spain, Chile, and Netherlands in Group B), the team did not grab a single win but performed extemporary well. They scored in two of the three matches they played. However, they needed to redeem their image by winning the Asian Cup, considering they were also the host.
With a squad that had participated in the World Cup, it was not difficult for Postecoglou to put together a team that would deliver excellent results in the tournament. But that was not enough to guarantee a win considering South Korea and Japan had also participated in the Brazil FIFA world cup. So, Socceroos had to fight hard to stand a chance to win the cup, and Postecoglou was up to the task.
Preparing the team was key. The team needed to have serious post World Cup tests keep the players fit and focused. That means playing friendly matches with teams that are higher in the FIFA football ranking. One of the teams that Socceroos took on was Belgium, the 2014 World Cup quarterfinalist. The other teams that the team played friendly matches include the UAE and Qatar.
After almost six months of getting the team ready, it was now time to select the famous 23-man squad for the Socceroos. Unlike what most people were anticipating, Postecoglou didn’t pick everyone from the previous FIFA World Cup team. Instead, he decided to bring in new talents to boost the team’s performance.
In the team were 7 players that had participated in the AFC Asian Cup 2011 in Qatar. They include Mckay, Burns, Spiranovic, Oar, Kruse, Cahill, and Jedinak. These are players that brought in experience to boost team performance.
From the just ended 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Postecoglou brought a team 16 members of the Socceroos squad. They included Cahill, Davidson, Franjic, Bresciano, Galekovic, Leckie, Luongo, McKay, Oar, Ryan, Spiranovic, Jedinak, Langerak, Troisi, Milligan and Wilkinson.
But the coach did not only bring players playing abroad but also from the A-league. Some of the players that participated in the AFC Asian Cup 2015 from the local clubs include Antonis, Juric, McKay, Milligan, Burns, Galekovic, and Spiranovic. So, it was a pool of talented soccer players that included experienced players such as Tim Cahill and young talents of the future.
The opening match was between the host and Kuwait at Melbourne rectangular Stadium, where Socceroos trounced the visitors 4-1. The match took place on January 9, 2015, in front of more than 30 thousand spectators. The second group match was held on January 13, where Australia beat Oman 4 goals without conceding. However, the team conceded one goal to South Korea in their final group match but qualified for the knockout stage.
In the knockout stage, they beat China 2-0 to advance to semi-finals, where they defeated United Arab Emirates 2-0. In the final, Australia met again with South Korea, where they won 2-1 in extra time. That’s how the Socceroos become the AFC Asian Cup 2015 champions.
The AFC Asian Cup 2015 will remain engraved in most football fans’ minds for a very long time. It was not only the biggest football tournament in the history of Australia but also the time that Socceroos became champions since they joined the AFC Asian Cup in 2007.