Australian coach Ange Postecoglou has dismissed suggestions his young players will suffer from stage fright in tomorrow’s AFC Asian Cup Final.
With almost half of the expected starting lineup being under 25 years of age, Postecoglou told reporters the players are focused solely on the task at hand.
“Nothing I’ve seen has suggested the occasion will get to anyone,” the 49-year-old said at Stadium Australia. “After the semi final, the players were already in recovery mode and focusing on what they have to do for the final.
“I can’t speak more highly of their professionalism over the last month. It’s a long time to be together and live in each other’s pockets 24/7 and that’s something only international football brings out.
“The players have been good at making sure that every one of them are doing the right things. We’ve got some fantastic experienced players and I don’t think there’s anything I’ve seen that suggests anyone will freeze tomorrow.
“It’s a big game and there’s always a possibility but I’ve got a great deal of faith in these players to perform the task tomorrow.”
Australia met Korea just two weeks ago in Brisbane, but Postecoglou doesn’t believe that will be either an advantage or disadvantage to his side.
“Going into tomorrow’s game I don’t think it will have great bearing,” the former Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory coach said.
“Previous form becomes irrelevant because of the occasion of the big game. The only reason there’d be significance was if one team performed really poorly. Both teams probably got positives out of that game.”
Postecoglou came in for criticism before the tournament after Australia endured a horror run of form in the lead up, winning only two of the 12 games since he took charge in late 2013.
Asked if winning the title would be vindication for him and his methods he said: “There’s nothing about vindication here, we were preparing a team for what was going to be a fantastic tournament and we wanted to put our best foot forward and represent our country proudly and to do that we had to chart a tough course.
“All along I’ve said we’ll be measured by how we go here, and what happened before is irrelevant. I enjoy the ups and downs, it means you’re doing something.
“It’s not supposed to be smooth. Roller coasters go up and down, that’s why they’re exciting.”