Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou believes that having host nation Australia in the Asian Cup final is the best thing for growing the sport in the country.
Speaking to the media after his side’s 2-0 win over UAE, the Greek-born Australian emphasised the importance of the continental competition.
“It’s a massive game,” said Postecoglou on reaching the final. “We made the final four years ago as well, which is great for our nation.
“We’ve been in Asia for a little while, but we haven’t won anything in the men’s game yet and this gives us an opportunity at a national team level to achieve something.
After finishing second in Group A, Postecoglou’s men reached the finals by beating Group B winners China in addition to the Emirati, who were runners-up in Group C.
“It’ll be a big game, there’s no doubt about it, a sold out final in a major tournament,” the coach continued. “We’re not going to host another one in our lifetime and that’s why it’s really important for us because, I think, it’s been an outstanding tournament and it’s been great for our game.”
The 49-year-old did admit, however, that a final in Sydney’s Stadium Australia not including his team could have been a less interesting draw for local fans who are looking for their first major silverware.
“I think it would have put a dampener on it if we [Australia] weren’t in the final,” Postecoglou elaborated. “It would’ve taken that bit of lustre off it, so I think for us to be there is a fitting way to end what’s going to be a fantastic tournament.
“You can always dream, you know, if we win it, it’ll be the biggest game ever for our code and our country, but we still have some steps to go first.”
He also felt that his team’s style and assertive results have helped to begin grow the sport with an Australian identity in his team.
“I think we want Australian sporting teams to be aggressive and proactive and take the game to opponents,” said Postecoglou on his team’s style. “I think we’ve done that in this tournament.
“We’ve scored more goals than any other nation in this tournament, we’ve created more opportunities and we’ve only conceded twice, so I think the general feeling I get from the supporters is that they love watching this team play.
“That’s great, because we want to be successful, but we also want to continue growing the game in this country and the best way to do that is by exciting the people that come through the gates.”
Australia will look to mark their place in Asian Cup history on Saturday when they face South Korea in the final at Sydney’s Stadium Australia.