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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Australia v South Korea: Hosts look to continue run

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Top spot in Group A at the Asian Cup is on the line when a rampant Australia take on South Korea in front of a sell-out Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Expect attacking, technical football from two of the AFC’s strongest nations in what should be an exciting contest.

Both sides are on six points in the tournament but there is no doubting it is Ange Postecoglou”s team that have been the more impressive.

The Socceroos have found their goal-scoring mojo, backing up their opening 4-1 demolition of Kuwait with an even better performance in crushing Oman 4-0.

The hosts look to have threats all over the park, with an astonishing eight different goal-scorers in the first two games.

If Australia have been powerful and prolific, the best way to describe the South Koreans is methodical.

German coach Uli Stielike’s outfit have been well below their best but have done enough to edge to 1-0 victories.

The South Korea boss has been quite vocal since their last match against Kuwait, declaring his side have no chance against Australia if they keep playing the same way.

It might just be mind games from Stielike but it is hard to argue given the way the host nation have gone about things in the early stages of the tournament.

For that reason it will be interesting to see what Postecoglou does with his side for the last game, knowing a draw is enough to finish on top of the group.

Skipper Mile Jedinak is making good progress from his ankle injury and will return if passed fit but it is elsewhere the Socceroos boss has some pleasant headaches.

Jason Davidson and Aziz Behich have both performed strongly at left-back in the first two matches with the latter expected to get the nod for this one.

The rest of the defence should remain the same although with Matthew Spiranovic carrying a yellow card he may be rested, allowing South Korea-based centre-back Alex Wilkinson his first minutes of the tournament.

Wingers Mathew Leckie and Robbie Kruse have got through a mountain of work in the first two matches and whether they can go again for the third game in eight days might be asking a bit much.

If not, both Nathan Burns and Tommy Oar will be itching to make their first starts, while the same applies for Tomi Juric.

The Wanderers striker, who came off the bench to score a classy goal against Oman, looks ready for a start if Postecoglou feels star Tim Cahill could do with a rest before the knockout stages.

In midfield, Postecoglou may again look to freshen things up with James Troisi and veteran Mark Bresciano options to come into the side.

Stielike is again likely to ring the changes to try and find the right mix.

Having made seven changes for their second game – with a virus going through his squad – he is likely to make a handful more in this one with the likes of Son Heung-min, Koo Ja-cheol and Kim Chang-soo to come back into the starting XI.

Nam Tae-hee, who scored the winner against Kuwait, should keep his spot but Stielike needs to find a replacement for injured midfielder Lee Chung-yong, who fractured his leg in the opening game against Oman.

This is the first major test of the tournament for both nations who have serious chances of winning the Asian Cup.

While a draw is enough for the home side to finish on top of the group, it is not in Postecoglou”s DNA to simply play for a point.

Expect another attack-at-all costs display from the Socceroos and their soaring confidence ” coupled with South Korea”s patchy form ” should see the hosts make it three from three heading into the quarter-finals.

For more sports news visit allSports.com.gh

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