By Colm Boohig
Australia and South Korean face-off tonight in Brisbane in the final game of Group A at this year’s Asian Cup. With both nations safely through to the quarter-finals this match will determine the winner of the group. The ball is very much in the host’s court in this endeavour with the Socceroos knowing a point will do, having possession of far superior goal difference.
When pressed by the media to adapt a more defensive approach by introducing an extra holding midfielder in order to ensure the above, coach Ange Postecoglou was quick to dismiss such a suggestion.
“I just think it’s the best way we play our football so if we start getting conservative now because we’re supposedly getting into the more difficult challenges, then well … I didn’t see Kuwait and Oman as easy games, far from it. We analysed them to death and we made sure we’re ready for the toughest possible games and same with Korea,” said the coach, ensuring his team will maintain its attacking philosophy.
Captain Mile Jedinak is still a doubt for the game due to a minor ankle injury picked up against Kuwait in the opening match. If Jedinak is indeed absent then Melbourne Victory skipper Mark Milligan is set to continue is his place having impressed so much against Oman, getting on the score sheet in the process.
Postecoglou’s men have been mightily impressive in the opening couple of matches, winning on an aggregate scoreline of 8-1. While the fantastic Matt Ryan has been kept busy in the Aussie goal, it’s the quality and varied finishing that has so far set the Socceroos apart from their opponents.
South Korea, meanwhile, has taken a far quieter route to the last eight, winning both matches to-date 1-0. With a couple of more changes anticipated in the Australian line-up in order to maintain squad freshness, expect a much sterner test this time around for the goal-happy Socceroos.
While the qualifiers from groups A and C are already finalised going into the last round of matches, it is still all to play for in the other two groups. Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan will have a straight play-off to determine who will be joining China out of Group B and into the last eight.
Japan’s progression from Group D is assured but it’s still all to play for between Iraq and Jordan. Iraq will face the wooden-spoons Palestine, while Jordan faces the group leaders.
Each game from the final round of group matches will kick-off at the same time, starting with tonight’s matches from Group A.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia