Socceroo skipper Mile Jedinak on Friday warned his new teammates: take nothing for granted, don’t get too far ahead of yourself and treat every game as if it is your last.
The Crystal Palace captain, who knows a thing or two about tense, sudden-death soccer and all-or-nothing clashes with plenty on the line, believes Australia can make a big impact at the Asian Cup.
To do so, however, the players have to believe in themselves, their coaches’ system and tackle each game on its merits.
Australia opens the tournament against Kuwait at AAMI Park next Friday evening, a game that, on paper, looks straightforward.
But opening matches in major tournaments, especially involving the host nation, tend to have their own dynamic, and this one will be no different.
The Kuwaitis will be up for it, desperate to bloody the host’s nose, while the Socceroos, anxious to get off to a winning start, will also be heeding coach Ange Postecoglou’s message that he wants his side to succeed by playing the game in the right style.
“Every game is going to be treated like a Cup final, it’s in tournament mode,” said Jedinak.
“Do I believe we will be ready January 9. Absolutely.”
He accepts that the Socceroos, through their host status and because of their footballing achievements, will have a large target painted on their back.
“Teams are going to want to do well against the host nation. Everyone wants to do well against the country where it’s held. We have to expect that, it’s part of the game, you have to expect that in every game. It shouldn’t matter, you need to have that sort of mentality.
“The pass mark for me is to get through the first game. You are getting ahead of yourself by looking too far ahead; I am not one to look way too far. I like to take things day by day and see where you go from there.”
The team, he says, have fully bought into Postecoglou’s philosophy and will work as one in trying to achieve his aims, having honed his game plan in several post-World Cup friendlies. While they might not be perfect yet, they are getting there, the captain says.
“We do everything as a unit, we have definitely shown that we can all defend … I think it’s been instilled in us from a very early time. The longer you spend with each other the more practice you can put into what’s being asked of us.
“We showed that we have got it (in parts). Have we got it for a full 90 minutes; probably up to this point I don’t think so.
“I have seen the progression in the past 12 months, not just with individuals but the collective.”
Jedinak insists that the drama at Selhurst Park, where Neil Warnock was sacked as the Eagles’ boss at Christmas and is due to be replaced by Alan Pardew, will not be a distraction for him.
“I left that behind me once I boarded the flight. I went with everybody at the club’s best wishes. I know the boys will be all right, I will keep in regular contact. The focus is on here.
“This was an important tournament for me, everyone at the club understood that. You have to be 100 per cent committed to that.”
Source : The Canberra Times