Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Melbourne: Massimo Luongo’s eye-catching performance in Friday’s 4-1 win over Kuwait at the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 highlights the success of Australia’s ongoing revamp according to coach Ange Postecoglou.
Man-of-the-Match Luongo, who plays in the third tier of English football for Swindon Town, set-up Tim Cahill’s 33rd minute equaliser at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium after tournament hosts Australia had fallen behind after just eight minutes of the Group A opener before the 22-year-old netted his first international goal just before half-time.
And with Mile Jedinak and James Troisi extending the advantage in the second half, 2011 finalists Australia secured the ideal start to the campaign for a squad which includes several players with only a handful of international caps.
“He’s one of the guys that we've blooded in the last 14 months and he’s one of the few we've worked with, persevered with and put them into camps and into tough situations. His club form has been really good, even though it’s the third tier of English football, but he’s still been playing good football,” said Postecoglou, who only handed Luongo his international debut against Ecuador in March before including the midfielder in Australia’s squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“When he came into camp he was in great condition and even in training, I kind of figured this game would pan out where we would have a lot of the ball and in those kind of situations. He’s a goal threat, whether it’s creating or scoring goals, he’s a goal threat.
“He’s one of a few with Aziz Behich and Trent Sainsbury, these are guys we've invested in over the last 12 months that are now starting to grow into national team players.”
Kuwait’s Hussain Fadhel had stunned the home side as he escaped from defender Sainsbury to head home an eighth-minute corner, and Postecoglou knows Australia must improve if they are to challenge for the title despite being able to net four unanswered goals either side of half-time.
“I would've preferred if we didn't concede a goal, but from a perspective of seeing a reaction, it was the right kind of reaction. They didn't go into their shell, if anything it made them more determined to overcome their opponents,” added Postecoglou, who now must prepare Australia to face Oman in Sydney on Tuesday.
“Certainly the players were told in no uncertain terms that that goal was unacceptable.”
Despite the early setback, Australia always dominated possession and were unlucky not to add further goals as both Mathew Leckie and substitute Nathan Burns hit the woodwork in the second half.
“I’m obviously pleased with the result, and it’s a great reward for the players’ efforts tonight. We got off to a very disappointing start from our perspective conceding a goal we should never concede,” said Postecoglou.
“The reaction was great. There was really good energy and intent in the tempo we played and I think deservedly we got the goals, and from that perspective, hopefully that gives the players confidence for the next games.”