Football: Socceroos the kings of Asia

Australia's players celebrate with the Asian Cup trophy after winning the final against South...
Australia's players celebrate with the Asian Cup trophy after winning the final against South Korea at Stadium Australia in Sydney. REUTERS/Edgar Su

First Asia, now the world. Australia are not putting any limits on their ambitions after winning the Asian Cup for the first time.

Less than a decade after ditching Oceania to join Asia, the Socceroos are the newly kings of the world's most populated region after beating South Korea 2-1 in extra time on Saturday.

It was by far the biggest achievement in Australian soccer history but no sooner had they got their hands on the trophy, they were resetting their sights on the World Cup -- one of the few major sporting trophies to have eluded the sports-mad nation.

"(Winning) this tournament here is a great achievement," Australia coach Ange Postecoglou told reporters. "But this is not where the journey ends for us, this is just the beginning.

"We have to push from here... We want to go to the next World Cup and make an impact.

"It's all about leaving watermarks along the way and we left a pretty high mark now."

The Australians had to work hard to win their first Asian Cup crown. After taking the lead through a 45th-minute goal from Massimo Luongo, the Socceroos conceded an equaliser to South Korea's Son Heung-min in stoppage time.

But Australia regained their composure in extra time and netted the winner through substitute James Troisi.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I thought it was a beautiful game. It's what football is all about," Postecoglou said.

"It was a final. It was two teams going at it, giving everything they've got because they know what's on the line. No team took a backward step. Credit to Korea they came at us, we went back at them. We scored our goal and we had to defend really well.

"I thought we did defend really well. You cop a goal in the last minute and then in extra time and that would break most teams. But we picked ourselves up off the floor and we know we had it in us in extra time.

"To be champions you got to display a whole range of qualities and today was about courage, belief and conviction. The players had that in abundance."

Postecoglou is the first Australian coach in a decade to take control of the national team on a full-time basis after local officials went after European coaches.

He believes the key to future success is to keep faith with Australia's way of playing the game, embracing an aggressive, attacking style that mirrors the country's culture.

"I said from day one that we won't take a backward step from anyone," Postecoglou said. "We don't do it any other sport and there's no reason we should do it football.

"I'm not going to put any limits on this group of players and the players outside the group who will contribute in the future," he added.

"The goal now for this (Asian) Confederation should be to break the European and South American monopoly on the World Cup."

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