Football – Asian Cup: Cahill to the double as Australia into semis
- Updated: January 23, 2015
January 22, 2015: Hosts Australia and Korea Republic were the first two teams to book their places in the AFC Asian Cup semi-finals after securing 2-0 victories over China and Uzbekistan respectively on Thursday, although Uli Stielike’s side required extra-time.
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou praised two-goal Tim Cahill after the 35-year-old forward scored with a sublime overhead kick and a trademark header in the second half to move the hosts into a meeting with either defending champions Japan or the UAE in Newcastle on Tuesday.
“No one’s going to lie down, it’s a quarter-final. They were working their socks off, they were closing our spaces and making it really hard for us, but while they were doing it they were using energy and I said to the boys at half-time, just keep the ball moving and eventually they’ll break down,” said Postecoglou, who started Australia’s record scorer on the bench against Korea Republic.
“It took a Timmy special to do it, but once we got it we never looked back. I still think in that penalty box he’s world class. We’ve managed him really well and we get the best out of him and maybe people will see some wisdom in us leaving him out against Korea. We’ve got to make sure that players like him, we use to the maximum of their ability and understand that we can’t just flog him out there.”
Cahill claimed his first in the 49th minute when he reacted quickest to Mathew Leckie’s ball over the top of the Chinese defence to steer his bicycle kick beyond Wang Dalei in the opposition goal. He then claimed his 39th international goal with a header from Jason Davidson’s cross from more than 12 yards out that bounced into the far corner beyond the diving Wang.
“It feels good,” Cahill said. “I was confident after the Korea game that we could bounce back, especially with the way we played. I’m proud of the boys, but most of all this is a big win for us. It’s something I knew deep down was going to happen before the game because I believe in this team and it showed in the end.
“I really encourage the boys to cross the ball into good areas. We were practising before the game and if you put it in the right spot then I know I’m going to get good contact.
“A lot of credit has to go to China. In the first half they had me wrapped up, I couldn’t move, they were holding me, but I had to wait for my chance and tonight I took two out of three and I’m pretty happy.”
Stielike admitted Korea Republic are still battling mental frailties although his side edged out Uzbekistan 2-0 after extra-time in Thursday’s dramatic quarter-final.
Germany-based forward Son Heung-min scored at the end of each half of extra-time at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium following an entertaining opening 90 minutes of normal time as Korea maintained their 100 per cent record without conceding a goal to claim a third consecutive semi-final.
But with the two-time winners set to face either Iran or 2007 champions Iraq in Monday’s semi-final at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Korea still have room for improvement as the Taeguk Warriors seek a first final appearance since 1988.
“Our main objective was to bring the mentality and concentration like we played against Australia to this game, but in the first half we saw mental problems when we played with a lot of pressure. We knew whichever team lost would be on the plane home to their country and I think this pressure was our main problem in the first half,” said Stielike, whose side has also beaten Oman, Kuwait and hosts Australia.
“After half-time we played much calmer with less unforced errors, as in the first half we couldn’t play five passes. After 91 minutes there was only one team on the pitch and with this strong 30 minutes at the end of the game, the victory went to the right side.
“Uzbekistan did a good job, mainly in defence, but in the first 90 minutes both teams had three good opportunities and why I think the result after 90 minutes was correct, but in extra-time we did much more for the game.”
Stielike was full of praise for the fighting spirit of Korea’s injury-hit squad, who have lost both Lee Chung-yong and Koo Ja-cheol for the remainder of the tournament.
“I think we can discuss a lot about our technical quality. In the first half, we missed a lot of passes and chances. About the technical quality we can discuss, no doubt about it,” Stielike admitted.
“What we cannot enter into discussion about is the mentality, the sacrifice of our boys. I am not sure that a lot of teams could compete like us after three games and with two of their best players out of the competition. A lot of teams would lose their mentality if you take two leaders out of their group.
“This is what this group is showing us each day on the training pitch and what we saw today in 120 minutes. A big tick for the kind of mentality that these guys are bringing on the pitch.”
Source: WSG / AFC Asian Cup (www.afcasiancup.com); Editing by SportAsia