DOHA - Winning a first Asian Cup would be
a fitting reward for the generation of Socceroos players who
have lifted the sport in Australia, captain Lucas Neill said on
Neill, along with Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill, Brett Emerton
and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer have provided the backbone of the
Australian team over the last decade and head into Saturday's
final against Japan hopeful of their first piece of
"For this era of players, it's an ideal opportunity to win
something. It would be a very nice reward for a lot of hard work
and sacrifice," Neill told reporters at the Khalifa Stadium on
"Together, we have lifted football in Australia and it would
be a nice reward for that work."
Neill, 32, has expertly led his band of 30-somethings to
their first Asian Cup final on the back of a miserly defence
which has conceded just one goal in their five matches.
Their 6-0 demolition of Uzbekistan in their semi-final on
Tuesday took their goal tally to 13 for the tournament, level
with Japan, but the similarities appear to end there.
While Australia have relied on experience, Japan have only
former Asian player-of-the-year Yasuhito Endo over 30 in their
The Blue Samurai's youthful side have played some
eye-catching, attacking football en route to the final with
their influential creative trio of Keisuke Honda, Shinji Okazaki
and Shinji Kagawa tormenting the opposition.
Kagawa, though, will miss the final after breaking his foot
in the semi-final penalty shootout victory over South Korea.
"Kagawa contributed a lot to the team on the way to the
final and he was getting better and better," Japan coach Alberto
Zaccheroni told reporters.
"I already know who will replace him and I have full
confidence in this player. I know the player well from watching
him in the J-League and I think he will be able to take over
from Kagawa," the Italian added without revealing who would
replace the Borussia Dortmund forward.
Victory for Japan would mean a record fourth Asian title and
Zaccheroni, who has yet to taste defeat since taking charge in
August, was quietly confident of success in the match between
the two best FIFA ranked sides in the 16-team tournament.
"The togetherness and spirit is fantastic in this team. I'm
proud to be in charge of them," he said.
"I'm very satisfied to have made the final and I like the
way we got here too."
Dutch players imprisoned for shocking death
One more season, but then...
Malaga man maintains Manchester/Madrid mania
Maracana applauds deep-lying playmaker
Who would you rather have playing for your club?
12 months out, the stars look to the World Cup
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Adidas Nitrocharge for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010