The final pregame press conferences of Australia and Korea Republic were held this afternoon and early evening (Friday) at Stadium Australia.
Australia’s head coach Ange Postecoglou was asked whether his team’s younger players feel will feel the pressure in the Final.
“I don’t think that is an issue. The group has been very good. That is nothing to indicate to me that the occasion will get to them. After the semi final, when I got into the dressing room, the players were already in recovery mode.” Postecoglou said.
“I cannot speak more highly about their professionalism over the last month. The players have been really good at making sure that they are doing everything right. I cannot see anything to suggest that they will freeze on the big day.”
On the ongoing speculation about an injury to Ivan Franjic, he responded with “in terms of Ivan, he will train today. He is available. If he trains, he plays.”
Postecoglou’s view on Mat Ryan is that “he is developing well. He is still a very young goalkeeper. Goalkeepers become better as the gain more experience. There is a lot (improvement) more in him. The challenge is to keep improving. If he does not keep improving, Mitch Langerak and Eugene Galekovic will take the spot from him. His (Ryan’s) ability with his feet is fantastic. We need that for the type of football we play.”
When questioned about the prospect about the Final being the best moment in his coaching career, Postecoglou sidestepped by saying that “we are focusing on the game. Only time will tell. My pride comes from the fact that our game has developed as a result of this tournament. The games have been well supported. As a kid growing up in this country that is what makes me happy.”
His thought on Massimo Luongo moving to another club is ‘I do not speak to players about their club situation. We give them an opportunity at international level, to represent their country. Beyond that, it is up to them to decide what is best for their careers. In the last 12 months, we have been teaching him what international football is all about. He has room for improvement.”
As to potential benefits by winning the tournament, Postecoglou acknowledged that “it will certainly help. With success come other benefits. It is not just the result but also the type of football and style that we play. I think the public are excited by the type of football that we play. The game is still growing. It will only grow if they come to the ground or watch it on TV. If the game is a spectacle, it will help football grow. Winning is not the only important thing.”
He is not overly concerned about the attacking prowess Son Heung-min as “we do not like to focus on individuals. He is a quality player, but he is not their only good player. We have done our analysis on the team. Every team in this tournament has players who can hurt you. Korea is a very good side. I think they are in the final because they have been the most consistent team. If you focus on individuals you will disrespect other players in the team.”
Postecoglou believes “there real no negatives to come from the (Group) match. In many ways it has helped us. We stayed in Brisbane for our quarter final. We left that game (against Korea Republic) knowing that we can compete with the very best. I guess they will feel the same.”
“When we play them in the final, the previous result does not matter because it is a final. The only way there would have been negatives is if one team had played badly, but in that game both teams would have taken positives from that game.” he said.
Postecoglou expressed confidence in winning the Final and that “we will do what we have been doing during the tournament. There are no secrets to what we will do tomorrow. We will take the game to the opposition and put pressure on them.”
Socceroos team captain and defensive midfielder Mile Jedinak feels that winning the tournament “at this stage it is number one. Winning, it will mean everything to me and means everything to me all the time. Having it (AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015) in your home country always makes it sweeter.”
“You can see the number people at the games, filling the grounds. We got a sense of it when we were at Newcastle and there were people outside the hotel. They wanted to get a glimpse of the teams. You can get a sense of it walking around town.” Jedinak said.
He acknowledged the amazing journey from being a trainee at A-League club Central Coast Mariners to being captain of the national team and what it means to play in the Final.
“You are representing an entire nation, not just a club. You are representing your country. It is where I grew up. It is where I played my football as a youngster. I feel in a privileged position. It is an honour which you are given. You have to earn it.” Jedinak said.
The team captain is not concerned about the possible scenario of a penalty shoot-out, and “whoever is the most confident will take them (the penalties) and you hope that your keeper steps up. He (Ryan) has a massive job. One thing that I learnt over the last 14 months is that he supports the players 110 per cent. We can see the rewards now. The mentality of the group has been changed. It has taken time, but it is developing well. The players are very grateful for his role.”
Ki Sung-yeung, the team captain of Korea revealed that “it is a great honour to be playing in the Asian Cup final against one of the best teams in Asia, Australia. Honestly, I have not much to say about the final because we already played against Australia in the group stage and we know exactly how they want to play. So it will be a great challenge for ourselves and looking forward to playing against Australia.”
“I’m obviously not the oldest player in the team; there are more senior players in our team like Cha Du-ri and Kwak Tae-hwi. I’m getting a lot of support from these players in order to become mentally stronger. My role in the team as the captain is that with my experience I can help the younger players come forward in tough situations. As captain I have to play my best, but without the help of these players Cha Du-ri and Kwak Tae-hwi it would have been a bit difficult.” Sung-yeung said.
He paid great respect for their opponents by saying “Australian football has improved a lot, the way they play football. It’s not only physical. Now they start to play football, and start to pass the ball very well. It’s not going to be a very easy game. I have experienced how Australian player approach the game. I know a lot of players and have a lot of information on them“.
“Obviously not conceding any goal means a lot of positive spirit for our team. Our defence, not only individually but as a team, is very strong. We know that sometimes we have trouble in the back where we give dangerous opportunities to opponents. We can say this is luck, but also we can say that our players are eager to not concede any goals. We have this great desire to not concede any goals in this tournament.” Sung-yeung said.
“I’ve really desired to win this completion. We always say that we are one of the best teams in Asia because we’ve been to World Cups. But on the other hand we never won the Asian Cup (since 1960). It’s a shame for us that we never proved that we are the biggest team in Asia. So I think this is a great opportunity for us to show to people that we can be the champion.”
Korea Republic head coach Uli Stielike reflected upon how the side has improved since their first match of the tournament:
“We are expecting and preparing for a very tough game tomorrow. We are the only team unbeaten, and to have not conceded any goals so we go with a lot of confidence and conviction into this game. We will have to play at our best level if we want to beat Australia.”
“We showed in the quarter-final and in the semi-final we had to fight a lot. We had to go into extra time in the game against Uzbekistan. We suffered a lot in the semi-final and the other way for Australia I think it was easier. They won they won the two games in normal time, both games two zero.”
On the decision to appoint Ki Sung-yeung as captain in place of Koo Ja-cheol who was the captain at the World Cup and in the last games before starting the Asian Cup, he revealed that “we wanted to take him out of this pressure. I think it was a good idea if you saw (how) Koo played against Saudi Arabia in our friendly game; and several days later I took him out at half time because he played very bad. Against Australia he played well until we had to take him out due to injury. I think it was a good idea to take him out to bring him back to a good level and that was the reasoning, and Ki was always, even when Koo was in the team, like his second captain.”
Stielike is not overly concerned about controlling the player’s excitement heading into tomorrow’s match because “the players are very professional so that won’t be a problem. However I don’t know how they will go out tomorrow onto the field. We have a lot of young players; it will be their first time in a big final, a big event with 80,000 people. So I don’t know how they will react. If we can control our nerves and play with conviction we will have our possibilities to win this game.”