Ange urges Asian go-slows to grow up
Photo Source: AAP
Massimo Luongo has declared himself ready to take on Japan as the Socceroos seek a return to winning ways in their World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night.
But as is always the case with Ange Postecoglou's side, it's about more than just winning, but winning in the right way.
The national team coach fumed at gamesmanship from Saudi Arabia in their 2-2 draw last week, with delaying tactics employed among a bag of tricks designed to stifle Australia's play.
The 51-year-old said it was in everyone's interests to play the whistle, get on with it and not feign injury.
"Back yourself to win a game of football by playing football," he said.
The tactics are par from the course when playing in the Middle East but Postecoglou said it wasn't just a cultural or regional difference.
Indeed, he'd seen the carry-on and nonsense - so despised by Australian crowds - in our own under-age sides.
"I watch our Under 20s, our Under 17s national teams and I see kids doing it, rolling around," he said.
"I think it's the wrong way. You're never going to improve.
"Those sorts of tactics, short-term gets you something but overall, if Asia is going to become a world power and win a World Cup, that kind of stuff just doesn't work any more.
"Get on with it."
"It's not about playing in the right spirit or the culture ... it's just the mentality that needs to change."
Luongo, who said he was "feeling really good" ahead of the Japan date, suggested a different match would be in store at Etihad Stadium.
"From my experience and what I know about the Japanese, I don't think it's in their nature to be like that," he told AAP.
"I think we're up for a very good game of football and an entertaining game rather than what we got with the stop-and-starting and the sabotaging of match minutes (against Saudi Arabia)."
Postecoglou said the preciously talented 24-year-old as likely to return to the starting eleven for Tuesday's match after confirming that a few changes would be made to his team to take on the Blue Samurai.
Indeed, missing out would be unfathomable; when fit, Luongo has featured in every competitive Socceroos match since the 2014 World Cup.
But he's yet to beat Japan - as is Postecoglou as coach - and is eager to do so to help Australia's qualifying bid for Russia 2018 on track.
"With the way the team's going, we're in a great position to tick off another milestone and get the win," Luongo said.
"It's not got to be an easy game and no one is expecting that."