New-look Australia target back-to-back Asian Cup

04 January 2019 AFP, Sydney



Australia are banking on pace and versatility up front to win back-to-back Asian Cup as they embark on a new era without stalwarts Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak.
The Socceroos are a different beast to Ange Postecoglou's team that beat South Korea in extra time to lift the trophy on home soil in 2015.
They have a new coach in Graham Arnold and a mostly inexperienced squad, with the majority of the 23 in the United Arab Emirates never having experienced the cut and thrust of Asian Cup football before.
Since taking the reins after Australia's poor showing at their fourth consecutive World Cup in Russia under Bert van Marwijk, Arnold has asserted his authority with the team unbeaten in his four games in charge.
He has jettisoned several players and changed the style of play.
For years Australia used to have one target man up front - usually Cahill - but the traditional centre forward role has been replaced with an attacking trio.
"The need for speed is up front," Arnold declared, naming a host of players who can "make a difference" in such a role - Matt Leckie, Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout, Chris Ikonomidis, Awer Mabil, Robbie Kruse and Tom Rogic.
"They're technically very good but quick," he said. "People talk about the goalscoring side of it - we've got goalscorers everywhere."
Arnold is keeping opposition teams guessing who will lead the line. McLaren and Leckie would seem to be the frontrunners.

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