Coach Ange Postecoglou watches over a Socceroos training session.
Coach Ange Postecoglou watches over a Socceroos training session. PETER POWELL

Ange's big-game boast ahead of crucial Japan clash

HANDS on hips, pacing back and forth across the turf: Ange Postecoglou is back on his turf casting a careful eye over his Socceroos.

At the Nijnomoto Fields in Tokyo, where it is steaming hot at 4pm in the afternoon - becoming slightly more comfortable once the sun starts to drop - the national team boss has a light session before ramping up preparations in Tokyo for the make-or-break clash in Saitama on Thursday.

This moment is what this crop of Socceroos have been building towards, and make-or-break games are the moments Postecoglou thrives on.

Think South Melbourne, Brisbane Roar or Socceroos at the Asian Cup. When posed to Postecoglou "I can't remember you losing (a big game)", the Socceroos boss' answer was straight to the point, with a giant grin accompanying it.

"That's because I haven't," he said.

"From the outside people look at it and see pressure, but for anyone involved, be it a coach or a player, you look forward to these occasions.

"When the whistle goes it's in the hands of the players but I've got a great deal of confidence in the boys we'll put out on Thursday night."

While the fans wait anxiously and demandingly for a complete performance on Thursday night, the truth is that three days out from match day, the national team's training involves very basic exercises. Things ramp up on Tuesday, before a more tactical hit-out on Wednesday. Then that's it. Game time. World Cup spot on the line.

"There is a bit of a gap between games, but that's international football and you understand it now," Postecoglou said when asked about life as an international coach. "A lot of planning goes in and you have to wait, literally, until the last minute ... to get them into camp.

"But our processes are pretty good now."

News Corp Australia


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