Postecoglou ready for Asian Cup challenge
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou believes that should AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 hosts Australia progress from a group which contains former champions Korea Republic and Kuwait as well as Oman they will be “serious contenders” for a maiden continental title at the start of next year.
Australia will face 1980 champions Kuwait in the opening game of the tournament on January 9 at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, before taking on Oman and then two-time champions Korea following Wednesday’s group stage draw in Sydney.
And with 2007 quarter-finalists Australia looking to bounce back their heartbreaking 2011 final defeat by Japan, Postecoglou is looking forward to his side’s Group A challenge.
“You can create some really special moments and create your own legacy if you can win a tournament in your own country,” said Postecoglou.
“Every opponent in our group needs to be respected. The beauty of having a tough group, as we do, is that if you get through it, you know you’re a serious contender in the knockout stages of the tournament.”
Defending champions Japan, who along with Australia, Korea and IR Iran will represent Asia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup later this year, headline Group D alongside Jordan, 2007 champions Iraq and the yet to be determined winner of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup.
“We have played both teams in the World Cup qualifiers, and both matches were tough so we expect these matches will also be tough,” said Japan Football Association General Secretary Hara Hiromi.
“(Iraq) are the U-22 champions and our national teams lost against them so it will be a tough match.”
Three-time champions Iran, meanwhile, have been paired in Group C alongside the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain.
“It is a difficult group as it is traditionally difficult for Iran to play against those teams. There is a lot of tension and emotion every time they play against the Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. But I think they have a chance to qualify for the next round,” said Iran coach Carlos Queiroz.
“I’m sure that after the World Cup the team can have a lift with the preparation and the experience, they will be stronger when they start the Asian competition.”
Finally, three-time winners Saudi Arabia, 2011 semi-finalists Uzbekistan, two-time finalists China PR and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners DPR Korea will face off in Group B.
“We knew that all the teams would be difficult and we also knew that a lot would rely on our hard work and preparation,” said Saudi Arabia coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro.
“All of the teams play at a very high level. At the moment we are very excited, we want to do a good job and try our hardest in every way.
“All games of football are complicated. Our rivals all play to a great quality and have good defence, but we also know that we will have to play at a great level in order to achieve a good result. We must prepare ourselves really well for each game.”
News Source: AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 Media