MELBOURNE - Former Australia superstar Harry Kewell has called on the Socceroos to go for the jugular at the Asian Cup as the tournament hosts prepare for Friday's opener against Kuwait in Melbourne.
A member of Australia's golden generation, Kewell believes that Ange Postecoglou's new-look side, who also face Oman and 2002 World Cup semi-finalists South Korea in Group A, are capable of winning their first Asian title.
"I'm sick of people talking about which player is going to step up," Kewell told Australia's Daily Telegraph on Thursday. "It's time for them to get rid of the shackles and go out there, be free and be their own people.
"They have a wonderful opportunity to forget about the past and to step up and make their own legacy and their own history. They need to go out there and take this tournament by the scruff of the neck."
Only Tim Cahill, Mark Bresciano and skipper Mile Jedinak remain from Kewell's era but the former Liverpool and Galatasaray winger insisted the Socceroos could reverse an alarming decline in fortunes since the last Asian Cup four years ago.
"What chance to play an Asian Cup at home," added Kewell, part of the Australia side which failed to lift the trophy in 2007 and 2011. "If they're not ready to run through brick walls, then something's wrong."
Australia, stunned by an extra-time winner against Japan in the 2011 final in Doha, have slipped from football's radar in recent years since the likes of Kewell, Mark Viduka and Mark Schwarzer rode off into the sunset, the Socceroos currently languishing at 100 in FIFA's world rankings.
But a defiant Kewell said: "It's a good chance to put Australia back on the map and to be taken seriously again. If Australia win the Asian Cup, they'll feel like they've won the World Cup. It's a chance for players to make a name for themselves."
The 36-year-old, who made over 50 appearances for the Socceroos, believes Australia should be following the blueprint of four-times winners and defending Asian champions Japan.
"Japan are the icing because they've had a long-term plan with a goal of eventually winning the World Cup," he said. "Go out there and destroy a team if you get the chance." Kewell confessed that failing to win the Asian Cup in 2007 and 2011 still stung.
"We stuffed up in 2007 as we went in too confident thinking we'll walk over them," he said. "The next one we knuckled down but we were runners-up. It's so disappointing I didn't get a chance to lift the Cup."