Asian Cup: Ange urges Socceroos to seize the day

Ange Postecoglou has just one message for his Socceroos squad heading into next month’s Asian Cup on Australian soil – seize the day!

Postecoglou is set to name his Asian Cup squad on Monday as the Australians step up their preparation for the tournament’s opening match against Kuwait on January 9 in Melbourne.

And, having seen Australia fall to Japan during extra-time of the last Asian Cup final in Qatar during 2011, Postecoglou is determined to impress on his side that this tournament is too good an opportunity to miss out on.

“Whilst the main basis of what we’re trying to achieve is to regenerate this team – sort of replacing the so-called Golden Generation,” said Postecoglou on the ABC’s Offsiders on Sunday. 

“There’s nothing that says to me in our build-up ... in this tournament to suggest that we can’t win it. 

“It’s really important that even if we are building a new team that the messages are always the same and the expectations ... you’re representing your country in a major tournament, let’s try and win it. 

“Some of these guys might think they’ve got two or three Asian Cups up their sleeve but that’s not how sport works and for them and for me, I have that responsibility to make sure I prepare them the best manner possible to try and achieve that.

Postecoglou added: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for everybody, for myself, for the players for us as a nation when you host a major tournament, and everything we’ve done post-World Cup has been in preparation to be in the best possible condition to contest. 

“It’s tough, it’s not going to be easy, a home nation hasn’t won an Asian Cup for a very long time and I think that’s due to the fact, as much as you get an advantage there’s some additional pressure aside from that.

“And, there’s some very strong nations we’ve got to compete with, but the expectations internally are definitely that we want to try and win it.”

Last month’s 2-1 loss to Japan hasn’t helped matters as Postecoglou now finds himself with the worst winning percentage of any Socceroos’ boss, having overseen just two wins from 12 games since taking over from Holger Osieck in October 2013.

However, Postecoglou doesn’t see it that way.

“A lot of people will just look at the results,” he said.

“I mean our performance against Japan was probably our best one since we played in the World Cup and I think part of that was that we knew it was a big game, the players knew. 

“We’ve had three competitive games in the last 12 months and they were all at the World Cup, that’s kind of my measuring stick.

“There’s an element of competitiveness within that and excitement, enthusiasm that a major tournament brings that we’ve probably been missing in these friendly games.

“Look, credit to the players, I’ve challenged them in ways that probably they shouldn’t be challenged in during their first few games of international football, playing against some of the bigger countries in the world, all on the road. 

“That’s been done with a purpose and I’m sure we’ll bear the fruits of that in January.”