The beginning of fear
CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said today’s match against Spain offers his team an opportunity to build a reputation of being “feared” rather than one that can cause an upset.
In his pre-match news conference yesterday, Postecoglou said his youthful team was motivated to secure Australia’s third ever win at the World Cup in their fourth tournament.
“If we are to continue to improve and become the nation that we want to be, to be feared, we’ve got to start winning games at this level,” he said. “Who’s to know which one of us will be here in four years’ time, and I don’t want to pass up an opportunity to make an impact at this World Cup and for our nation.”
Though neither team can qualify for the knockout stages after losing their first two games against the Netherlands and Chile, Postecoglou, an Australian himself, dismissed suggestions that the match against the defending champion was meaningless.
“We’re very, very motivated,” he said. “Our goal is to put our best performance at this World Cup in tomorrow’s [today’s] game, and if we do that, then we have a chance because we’re still facing the current world champions.”
After a fairly lacklustre display in their 3-1 defeat to Chile in their opening game, Australia impressed during the 3-2 loss to the Netherlands. Australia challenged the Dutch, who had previously thrashed Spain 5-1 in their opening fixture. Tim Cahill scored one of the goals of the tournament with his left-footed volley.
The 34-year-old Cahill is suspended from the team to play Spain after he picked up his second yellow card in consecutive matches. Postecoglou also said midfielders Mark Bresciano and Mark Milligan were “unlikely” to recover from injuries.
For what is one of the youngest squads in the tournament, the loss of those three experienced players may be a blow. All three were part of the 2006 Australia squad in Germany that progressed to the second round – the Socceroos’ best-ever performance at the World Cup.
Postecoglou, who replaced German Holger Osieck last October following back-to-back 6-0 thrashings to Brazil and France, brought a young squad to Brazil after a number of more experienced players retired from international football.
“The fact that we’re putting out a young team tomorrow [today], it’s not because we’re trying to experiment, we’re putting out a team that hopefully can win the game,” he said.
Neither team could train on the pitch yesterday at the Arena da Baixada because it was cut up badly in Friday’s match between Ecuador and Honduras.
“It’s not ideal, it would be great to play and look around the stadium and feel the pitch but looking at it now, if we trained on it and the Spanish trained on it, it would probably detract from the spectacle tomorrow,” Postecoglou said.