January 31, 2015 / 2:17 PM / 3 years ago

Australia's Luongo named MVP at Asian Cup

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Massimo Luongo was named the Most Valuable Player at the 2015 Asian Cup after scoring the opening goal for Australia in Saturday’s 2-1 win over South Korea in the final at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium.

Australia's Massimo Luongo reacts as he proceeds to collect the Most Valuable Player award during the trophy presentation ceremony of the Asian Cup at the Stadium Australia in Sydney January 31, 2015. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

The 22-year-old midfielder capped a brilliant performance throughout the tournament when he scored in the 45th minute, turning sharply before blasting the ball into the net from 25 metres out.

“I definitely enjoyed that one,” Luongo told reporters. “It’s when I’m most dangerous, when I pick up the ball in the hole and turn and run at defenders.”

Luongo, who plays for Swindon Town in the third tier of English soccer, made his international debut last year and was picked in the Australian squad for the World Cup but did not play a match.

Luongo has since established himself, however, as one of Australia’s most promising young players and forced his way into the starting lineup.

He has only played 11 matches for his country but has his sights set on a long international career.

“Short term (goal) is to get Swindon promoted. I’m not worrying anything about getting a move. I’m worried about the season and going up,” he said.

”I’m not too troubled about the club situation because I’m enjoying it there and moments like this don’t bother me.

“On the other side, I want to be a Socceroos for a long as I can.”

Luongo was among a group of younger players that the Australian coach Ange Postecoglou brought into the national squad in the hope of rebuilding a team for the future.

He scored a goal and was named man of the match in Australia’s opening match at the Asian Cup against Kuwait and was also named player of the match in the semi-final win over United Arab Emirates.

“We knew he was a guy who deserved an opportunity… and he’s grabbed it with both hands,” Postecoglou said.

“He went to the World Cup and didn’t play a minute but the whole purpose of that was hopefully to prepare for what he’s done now.”

Australia’s Mat Ryan was named as the best goalkeeper of the tournament while United Arab Emirates striker Ali Mabkhout won the golden boot award for scoring a tournament best five goals.

Editing by Ed Osmond

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