TO THE FINAL: Lee Jung-hyup celebrates scoring the first goal during the Asian Cup semi-final last night in Sydney.
TO THE FINAL: Lee Jung-hyup celebrates scoring the first goal during the Asian Cup semi-final last night in Sydney. Matt Kingaap Images

A chance to build for future

WHATEVER the result of tomorrow's Asian Cup final between the Socceroos and South Korea, you have to say the tournament has been a rip-roaring success.

Before tonight's third-place playoff between the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, 77 goals had been scored in a tournament that all teams have embraced.

Attacking intent has been evident from the opening game when the Socceroos banged in four against Kuwait, and it seems the crowds have loved it.

Up to and including the semi-finals, 504,046 fans have attended games.

With Ange Postecoglou's team through to the final at ANZ Stadium, a crowd of 84,000 is expected. Added on to the crowd from tonight's clash, that will push the total to over 100,000 more than the predicted 500,000 ahead of the tournament.

As well as the crowd involvement there has been the TV exposure, with the games being shown live across the continent to an audience of millions.

Previously lesser-known players from the likes of Iraq, Iran, UAE and Uzbekistan have now raised their profile, giving them a better chance of moving to bigger clubs across the globe as a consequence.

Omar Abdulrahman and his UAE teammate Ali Mabkhout have been prime examples of this, while players such as South Korea's Ki Sung-yeung and Son Heung-min have enhanced their reputations as the tournament has progressed.

The stock of Socceroos players has also risen, with the likes of Trent Sainsbury, Matthew Spiranovic, Mat Ryan and Massimo Luongo all being noticed by clubs around the globe.

This has to be good for the future of Australian football, especially if the Socceroos can turn the tables on Korea from the 1-0 defeat earlier in the tournament and win the final tomorrow night.

If they do, it will not only be arguably the biggest moment in Australian football history but it will pave the way for future success.

A win over Korea in Sydney will mean Australia qualifies for the Confederations Cup in Russia in 2017.

Used by FIFA as a warm-up for the following year's World Cup, this will give the powers that be in Australian football a chance to assess just how far the Socceroos have moved on.

Success on Saturday will also mean Australia's FIFA ranking will rise dramatically, giving Football Federation Australia the chance to secure higher-ranked opponents for much-needed friendlies in the build-up to the World Cup qualifiers later in the year.

As he has for the entire tournament, Postecoglou will have his team well prepared for tomorrow's final.

Let's hope a win will start a period of unprecedented success for our country's footballers.

The only way is up.



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