Opinion

Postecoglou and Taggart are changing the game for Aussies in Asia

The success of Adam Taggart and Ange Postecoglou in South Korea and Japan respectively could lead to a boom in interest in Australian players and coaches in Asia.

It’s fantastic to see headlines of Australian successes in East Asia all over the Australian media. Every single one of those column inches are fully deserved.

Adam Taggart could become the top scorer of South Korea’s K-League just days before Ange Postecoglou takes Yokohama F Marinos to a first J.League title since 2004.

Either would be significant in its own right but for both to happen in the same season would be something else. 

To score regularly in the K-League is not easy especially in your first season. Defenders tend to be tough, quick and technically very good.

While things are slowly changing, many coaches favour a reactive game and look to hit on the counter-attack with not much space for strikers to operate.

Even more impressive is that Suwon Bluewings are not the force of old and these two-time Asian champions have spent the season in the bottom half of the table. 

Like Taggart, Postecoglou has already been successful whatever happens in the coming days.

Taking over Yokohama was just the start but he has changed the way the team play football and has changed the perception of Australian coaches.

The trophy would be great but the legacy is there regardless. 

And if that includes more coverage of Asian leagues down under then so much the better.

While it would be great to see Asian football reported widely as a matter of course, it is a big ask as it doesn’t happen much anywhere on the continent, or beyond for that matter.

Domestic media anywhere always get much more interested when there is a local angle and there are no better angles than local lads having international success. 

Taggart and Postecoglou’s success can help elsewhere too as it should be a reminder to Asia that the A-League is a source for talent.

The 2016 Chinese Super League witnessed no less than nine Australian players in action.

They were playing with and against some of the best coaches and foreign players in the world in the biggest Asian league - and, usually, getting paid handsomely. 

A change in the registration rules have limited the attraction of Asian players as a whole in China but South Korean players are still a relatively common sight in the Middle Kingdom.

At the moment, there are no Australians in China but this could change especially if, and there is talk to this effect, the rules regarding foreign players change next season. 

Taggart does not need that. In the past, if you score goals in the K-League then Chinese clubs often come calling - four of the past six golden boot winners subsequently headed west across the Yellow Sea under the assumption that if you can score in Korea then you will score in China. 

There have already been rumours of Chinese interest in Taggart. Whether the former Perth Glory hitman would choose to go is a different matter: the striker is hugely popular at Suwon Bluewings and the club has just booked a place in the 2020 AFC Champions League.

But a big money move to China would surely be tempting and also have a knock-on effect elsewhere. 

The success of Sasa Ognenovski at Seongnam back from 2009 to 2012 led to a explosion in the demand for Australian players, especially defenders. Sasa was soon headed to West Asia.

There should be more Aussies in the big leagues there too: Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE than is currently the case. 

Postecoglou will help. Already the coach has won the Asian Cup but winning the J.League would bring more credit. His success in Japan will lift the reputation of Australian coaches around Asia.

A few more clubs may start to consider Aussie bosses which have not --either due to personal reluctance or the absence of opportunities -- been as present in Asia as could have been the case. 

With the tiny number of professional coaching jobs in Australia, increasing the number of Australian coaches in work internationally can do no harm. 

Taggart and Postecoglou can be delighted with their East Asian exploits and proud of the coverage back home but the wider benefits may be felt in the months and years to come all around the world’s biggest continent.

Source John Duerden