Reflections from an epic final

By Pablo Bateson – The last post match press conferences and mixed zones for the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 tournament were held not long after the finish of the Final played at Stadium Australia.  The game was won 2-1 by Australia after extra time in front of over 76,000 fans.

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Uli Stielike, the Korea Republic head coach, when questioned about the result and his team’s status responded with “I do not agree that we are not champions, I agree we don’t have the cup but like our players played today we are also champions of a lot of hearts and all the messages which I received now in the minutes after the game, everybody is giving a big hand to the players.”

“Today was a game could be on one side or another side, the victory. Personally I think the best for the game would be a draw for this game and the two teams take the cup home but that cannot be.”

On his tactical decisions, he revealed that “the line-up was done a little bit based on the analysis of the Australia games. For me it was too risky to start with two offensive players on the side that’s why I preferred to put Joo on the left side in combo with Kim Jin-su.”

“We know and everybody saw in the tournament that Australia comes strong on the back from both sides so I wanted to stop this offensive line coming from behind.”

About goals in the match, Stielike believed that “we didn’t have a lot of defensive problems, both goals are coming in a very bad moment even our goal came at a bad time (for Australia). Taking a goal in the 44th minute and going in the half-time and after you come out you come back in the game that’s the most important thing. Getting a goal at the end of extra time (first half) killed our mentality a little bit also.”

His thoughts on the team’s performance were that “I’m very satisfied with our aggressiveness and defensive work we are sometimes naive in the second goal when we offered the ball in the outside like we were two or three times in position to kick the ball out, clear the ball and this is what missing in the team but it will come step by step.”

“We need a little more time what we need is in the formation of the players in Korea we start working more with the ball. There we need calm and playing against pressure we play a lot of long balls, these are the things we have to improve.”

His view on the future of Korea Republic national team is that “first I will tell you in Korean because it’s coming deep from the heart, translated it means: ‘Korea you can be proud of your boys’. And this is what I’m thinking and more what I’m feeling. So for the future we are on the right way because we have this group.”

“We didn’t work with only 14, 15 or 16 players we worked with 22 players and I think that’s a good way to go. The problem in Korea, for young boys the football is mostly in schools and, it’s not the KFA (Korean Football Association) that have a hand in this boy. They (schools and university) teach them to win, we have to teach them to play football and this is different.”
Australia head coach Ange Postecoglou said “I’m very proud of everyone involved. To win a tournament like this a lot of hard work goes in from a lot of people. This last month staff and players have done everything right to give ourselves the best chance of success.”

“It’s a proud moment for our country, the boys showed those championship qualities when needed. I think probably relief is the biggest one. You see so many people, the players work so hard and you want them to get the reward. I’ve been around long enough to know this game can be cruel.”

“You get tested and we got tested and copped one in the last minute. It would’ve broken a lot of teams to be that close to being champions.”

“Thing we did know is that we would be strong in extra time, the players knew and we had them on fitness. Half an hour of football we could get on top of them, full credit to the subs that came out and created the goal.” he said.

On Massimo Luongo’s performance and selection, Postecoglou responded with “one thing I did when I took over the position, I realised as a part of the whole organisation we have to regenerate the team and cast the net wide.”

“The fact he (Luongo) was playing in division one didn’t meant anything. We knew he was a guy who deserved the opportunity and that’s what we’ve done with a lot of the guys. He went to the World Cup and didn’t play a minute and look at him now.”

“He’s played a lot more in this tournament than I thought he would at the start of the month, he’s been a player hard to leave out.”

Postecoglou dismissed any claims that of the match not being ‘beautiful’ to watch with “beauty is eyes of the beholder I thought it was a beautiful game. It’s what football is all about. I doubt they’ll be an Aussie who won’t go to sleep easily tonight.”

About the Australian team’s potential, he emphasised that “I’m not going to put any limits on this group of players and not just this group, there’s players outside this group who will contribute in the future. Whatever we do we’ve set the standard here today.”

“We came into this Confederation knowing it would be a huge challenge, the Matildas won the Asian Cup, then Wanderers in the Champions League and now we’ve won.”

“The goal should be for this Confederation would be to break the European and South American monopoly on the World Cup. This tournament (Asian Cup) here, it’s a great achievement but it’s not the end of the journey is the beginning for us.”

His view with a touch of sarcasm on being an Australian coach is that “because I’m an Australia coach I’m limited in what I can do. I’m always coaching against someone who’s smarter and better than me because they’re from overseas and from another country. The coaching team is Australian and the background staff and players are Australian.”

“I said from day one, we won’t take a backward step from anyone we don’t do it in another sport and we don’t do it in football. I hope after myself, the next coach is an Australia coach and we start backing ourselves a bit more.”

On the future of Tim Cahill, Postecoglou said “I don’t know what uncertainty there would be. He’s had a fantastic tournament. He was a very important part of this tournament and showed again when we needed him. He worked awful hard he got a bit of a knock on his ankle at the half and we had to take him off.”

Player of the Tournament Massimo Luongo (Australia midfielder) on the feeling of being champions responded with “there’s not much to say………..We set on this journey before the World Cup and I think the boss put the main thing forward that we have to have believe in ourselves because the boys we have and type of group we have is different than most clubs and national teams.”

“He said together we can make history and we have. No words can describe it because everyone put a shift in from (goalkeeper) Mat Ryan to our strikers, everyone did their job.”

“It (the match) went to extra time so things just don’t happen so easily for us so it was definitely one to remember.” he said.

Luongo offered little about any future club moves by saying “short term will be to get my team (Swindon Town) promoted. I’m back there in four days so just focused on that not worried about a move or anything like that. And on the other side I want to be a Socceroo for as long as I can as well.”

On his goal in the first half, he recalled that “it was a good ball from Trent Sainsbury and I got a good turn and had a bit of pace behind me. I don’t remember much but I had the confidence for a shot on goal, I was in the moment and pulled it off.

“Definitely enjoyed that one. That’s when we’re the most dangerous, pick up the ball in the hole, turn and run at defenders.” Luongo said.

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