Australia confident ahead of Asian Cup semifinal

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Canberra, Jan 27 (IANS) Hosts Australia are confident they can defeat the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Tuesday night and progress to their second consecutive AFC Asian Cup final, according to manager Ange Postecoglou and captain Mile Jedinak.

Australia have enjoyed a relatively successful campaign thus far, with a 0-1 defeat to South Korea in their final group match the only blip following four matches, reports Xinhua.

However, Tuesday night in front of a sellout 32,000-strong crowd in Newcastle, they will need to defeat Asia’s fifth-ranked side, the UAE, to progress to the final on home soil.

According to Postecoglou, the side is in the best possible shape to do so.

“The environment we have created is pretty much the same as the World Cup, it’s an environment designed to get the best out of our footballers,” Postecoglou said Tuesday.

“The biggest difference for us is we have spent the last six months exposing as many players as we could to how tough international football is and also exposing them to how we want to play.

“Every player who is in the camp, I’m quite confident if I put them out there, they’re able to deliver.”

Other than midfielder Chris Herd, who was ruled out of the tournament earlier in the month with an achilles injury, Australia has a clean bill of health ahead of the match.

For Jedinak, that’s all his manager could possibly ask for.

“We have got 22 fit players ready to go,” he said. “There is nothing more you would want at this stage.”

Emirati attacking midfielder Omar Abdulrahman has been one of the standout players at this year’s Asian Cup and represents the United Arab Emirates’ biggest threat to Australia.

However, Postecoglou is putting no extra emphasis on the exciting 23-year-old, who has been tipped to move to some of Europe’s biggest leagues in the coming months.

“Every team in Asia has technically gifted players,” Postecoglou said. “The ones who use them better are the ones who have a really cohesive team and I think the United Arab Emirates have one of those squads.

“That is where the danger lies, rather than with individuals.”

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