NEWCASTLE, Australia (AFP) – Ange Postecoglou said he’s not worried about South Korea’s miserly defence in the Asian Cup final after the Socceroos underlined their incredible ability to score through almost any player.
Defenders Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson struck in Tuesday’s 2-0 semi-final win over UAE to extend Australia’s tournament-leading tally to 12 — with 10 different scorers.
And Australia’s record has given coach Postecoglou heart as he prepares for a Korean side which has reached the final without conceding, the first since in 39 years to do so.
“We’ve played five games, we’ve scored 12 goals and conceded two, and we’re in the final, I think that speaks for itself,” said Postecoglou.
Striker Tim Cahill is the only man to net more than once, with Massimo Luongo, Mile Jedinak, James Troisi, Matt McKay, Robbie Kruse, Mark Milligan and Tomi Juric all grabbing one apiece.
UAE marked Cahill heavily after his two goals in the quarter-final against China, but they were caught by surprise when Sainsbury and Davidson popped up for their first international goals.
“There has been a lot of emphasis on Timmy and rightly so because he was fantastic in the quarter-final but I think this tournament has shown that we can score goals from other areas,” said Postecoglou.
“We’ve never really felt that it was just about Timmy scoring,” the 49-year-old added. “We knew building into this tournament that if we play our style of football and get players in positions we could score, including at set-pieces.”
Before South Korea, Iran in 1976 — when only six teams played — were the only side to reach the final without conceding, and they remained unbreached as
they lifted the title with a 1-0 win over Kuwait.
But Postecoglou remains confident over his attacking philosophy, saying it was popular with both players and the nation. No other Asian Cup side has had more than six different scorers.
“I think Australian sporting teams would want to be really aggressive, proactive and attack the game to opponents and I think we’ve done that this tournament,” he said.
“The general feeling I get from the supporters is that they are loving watching this team play and that’s great because we want to be successful but we also want to continue to grow this game in this country.”
Postecoglou will field a different team to the one that lost 1-0 to the Koreans at the group stage, when he opted to rest his first-choice strike partnership of Cahill and Kruse.
And with Australia into their second straight Asian Cup final after their 2011 loss to Japan, the boss urged his players to grasp the opportunity of a lifetime.
“It’s a massive game. We’ve now been in Asia a little while but we haven’t won anything and this gives us an
opportunity to achieve something,” Postecoglou said.
“We’re not going to host another one in our lifetime. That’s why I think it’s really important for us,” he added.