Soccer-Socceroos hope to kick on after pressure-relieving win

MELBOURNE, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Australia laid to rest some nagging doubts with a 4-1 victory over Kuwait in their Asian Cup opener on Friday, though coach Ange Postecoglou was in no mood to gloat over a win that could have been seen as vindication of his methods.

The 49-year-old had been under enormous pressure before the tournament with his side having won just twice in 12 matches since he took over from Holger Osieck in 2013.

Having discarded several veterans from Australia's 'golden generation' that qualified the country for three successive World Cups, Postecoglou was faced with the burden of expectation for his team to deliver in the sports-mad country.

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That pressure was peaking on Friday with the match sold out and the ground in Melbourne turned into a sea of gold as home fans roared their side to victory in an attacking performance that could have produced a larger result than the final score.

Postecoglou criticised his team for the way they conceded a sloppy eighth-minute Hussain Fadhel goal but was also aware that the win had managed to silence critics of his managerial performance to date.

"There wouldn't be a coach in the world that wouldn't understand if the results aren't there, they're going to get criticised," he said of the expectations.

"It doesn't affect me (and) is not about my vindication.

"We have been really disciplined in what the mission was 14 months ago... there was a real directive to regenerate the team and change the way we play.

"And while I'm in the job, as long as it lasts, we're going to stick to that."

Australia play Oman in their second Pool A game in Sydney on Tuesday, happy that the Kuwait win will have added interest to a tournament that clashes with the Australian Open tennis grand slam and the build up to next month's cricket World Cup.

"We knew that there would be a lot of people tuning in just to have a look at this tournament and what it's about, if we could score goals," Postecoglou said.

"You're going to see a lot of good football in the next few weeks. And our role in that is to make sure we play our part and get the Australian people behind us.

"And if they do that, they will enjoy the football. We know that Aussies love their national teams.

"We have got a great opportunity to capture some hearts and minds not just about the Australian Socceroos but about football in general." (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O'Brien)

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