Captain Deng ready for South Korea


Melbourne Victory defender, Thomas Deng, will be in action on Thursday morning when Australia faces the Korea Republic in the Semi Finals of the AFC U-23 Championships.

The match will be played at the Thammasat Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. Kick-off is at 12:15am Thursday (AEDT).

The winner will go through to the final of the tournament, as well as book their place at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo later in the year.

Speaking to Fox Sports, Deng believes the key to performing well against the Korea Republic is simple.

“Just to bring some energy,” Deng said.

“The vibe is very good. They boys are very positive, and we had a good performance the other night.”

“Going 120 minutes isn’t easy but it’s bought us together and I think we’re going to be very hard to beat in the games to come.”

Deng said he was proud to wear the captain’s armband throughout the tournament.

“It’s been an honour to lead the team on the field and we’re trying to do Australia proud.”

“It’s been the first team that’s done well since 2013.”

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Australia Coach, Graham Arnold, said his message to the players has been to focus on their goal of winning the tournament, not Olympic qualification.

“We have ticked two boxes (at the tournament),” Arnold said.

“The first box was to top the group, the second box was to get into the semi-finals.” 

“We don’t even talk about Olympic qualification – we talk about winning the Asian Cup or getting to the Final of the Asian Cup and the rest will look after itself.”

“With the playing side of it I think mentally we have proven to all the other teams that we can do 120 minutes at full gas.

“No one else has shown that since we have been at the tournament, so we know tomorrow that if the game does 90 minutes or 120 minutes, we are ready for both. We see that as an advantage.”

Wednesday’s Semi Final kicks off at 12:15am AEDT on Thursday, January 23. You can watch the match on Fox Sports, Kayo, or live stream it free via this YouTube channel