Socceroo veteran Mark Milligan reflected on Australia’s long progress to the pinnacle of Asian football following their 2-1 win over South Korea on Saturday night to win the country’s first-ever Asian Cup.
The 29-year-old made his international debut in 2006 and has represented his country since before they officially joined the Asian Football Confederation following that year’s World Cup.
“[Australia’s 2007 Asian Cup squad] was obviously a very good side, but now we’re more experienced in Asia,” Milligan said after the match. “We know what to expect and how to handle ourselves. What we have to do in certain games. I think that experience in Asia has helped us a lot.”
The Melbourne Victory defender declared the victory, which came in front of over 76,000 fans in Sydney’s Stadium Australia, to be a boost for the sport.
“I think it’s massive and it’s very good timing; [first there was] the success of the Wanderers in Asia, and for us to come back it up on home soil.
“For the Australian public to see us do it here is very special, and they see they’re a part of something that’s very big. Audience and attendances have been massive and it’s very good timing.
“Football in Australia is going forward again.”
But despite winning the continental tournament and earning the right to represent Asia in 2017’s FIFA Confederations Cup, Milligan was reluctant to declare his side dominant.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do before we’re the team to beat in Asia,” he reflected. “Japan’s fantastic, Korea showed tonight that they’re amazing.
“You’ve seen some amazing performances across the board from teams like UAE and Uzbekistan, I think it’s definitely an open field at the moment.
“We’re definitely up there and challenging but that’s as far as it goes.”