SYDNEY (dpa) – Winning Saturday’s Asian Cup final against South Korea would not only deliver Australia the first major trophy in their history but also put to rest the ghost of defeat to Japan at the same stage four years ago.
“Did we deserve to win the final? Possibly, possibly not,” record scorer Tim Cahill was quoted as saying on the Australian team homepage. “Were we managed as well as we are now? Possibly not. We gave it everything but at the final hurdle physically we weren’t ready.”
Cahill is one of seven players from the 2011 vintage in the squad for the 2015 campaign at home, with current captain Mile Jedinak another survivor alongside Matt McKay, Robbie Kruse, Tommy Oar, Matthew Spiranovic and Nathan Burns.
A tight encounter with Japan went to extra-time but Tadanari Lee’s 109th minute strike won the cup for the Blue Samurai.
“I remember there was six of us strapped up, knees, calves, shoulders and we basically just made it through the game,” Cahill said.
“This won’t be redemption or anything like that. This is all about the future and what we’re going to do. We won’t be looking back because we’ve come a long way as a football nation.
The veteran Cahill has brushed off talk of retirement but at 35 years old, Saturday’s final against South Korea in Stadium Australia is probably his last chance for major silverware.
Having played under several national team coaches, Cahill heaped praise on present boss Ange Postecoglou for moulding the current squad.
“It definitely has to be the best that I’ve ever been a part of purely because of everything that’s behind it,” he said.
“The football is great, the set-up is great but the professionalism is on a whole other level. “Our focus is on ourselves because physically, mentally, tactically, technically, whatever you want to say, these boys are ready and it’s a unique situation to be in.”
In contrast to Cahill, 22-year-old goalkeeper Mat Ryan was a teenager watching the 2011 final from home.