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Socceroos can't shake 'physical' tag in Asia


Socceroos defender Milos Degenek has just about given up trying to argue with people in Japan who still think Australia play physical, route-one football.

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Coach Ange Postecoglou tore up the playbook the moment he took up the Socceroos job in 2014 and ever since they’ve worked hard to perfect a bold, adventurous and attacking style that is heavily reliant on retaining possession.

But the old stereotype still prevails and Degenek, who plays his club football for J-League side Yokohama F. Marinos, is sick of hearing about it.

“I’ve been asked that for the last month, after every training session, every game – how is Japan going to deal with the physicality, how Australia just play long ball, how we just win headers and play for set pieces,” he said.

“I don’t agree with that.

“That’s the picture of Australian football they have a few years ago when things were different and Josh Kennedy was still playing and things were a bit different.

“They think we play long ball and that because a lot of us (are tall), they think they’re big boys who just want to do that.

“When they say that, I just say, ‘alright, then we don’t watch the same thing or analyse the same games’.

“I just keep going along with it.”

Questions about their physical superiority and height are commonplace when the Socceroos travel throughout Asia, where there is little recognition of the team’s recent progress — much to Postecoglou’s chagrin.

The irony is they used their strength and aggression perfectly at the Confederations Cup against Chile but they combined it with technique and poise.

It nearly caused a spectacular boilover against the South American champions, who were rattled but recovered to draw 1-1.

Many see that game as the blueprint Australia must return to in Thursday’s vital World Cup qualifier against Japan.

“That game was one of the best games the boys have played in a while,” Degenek said.

“I don’t know what the boss is planning to do and how he’s planning to do it, but whatever he says to do we’re all going to do it.

“We’re all 100 per cent behind him.

“If that gets us the result and what we need then we’ll do what he says.”


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