28.01.2015 04:09 h

Break-out star Luongo surprises even himself

No one is more surprised at Massimo Luongo's stand-out Asian Cup performances than, well, the player himself as he prepares for the match of his life in Saturday's final.

The young Socceroo plies his trade for third-tier English side Swindon Town, but after a head-spinning few weeks he is set to play in front of 80,000 fans in Sydney.

Luongo's selection for Australia's opener against Kuwait was not expected but he has proved indispensable, starting every game since and providing a tournament-leading four assists.

"It's not what I expected on a personal level," said Luongo, man-of-the-match in Tuesday's 2-0 semi-final win over United Arab Emirates after setting up both of Australia's goals.

"I'm a little bit surprised by my performances so far but I know myself what I cam capable of," he added.

Luongo, 22, was a surprise inclusion against Kuwait but he turned in a scintillating performance capped with his first international goal, a powerful header, in the 4-1 win.

He also provided the cut-back for Tim Cahill's opener and in Australia's second game against Oman, he returned a one-two onto Robbie Kruse's knee for their second in the 4-0 win.

On Tuesday, Luongo's corner to the head of Trent Sainsbury put Australia ahead against UAE, and he prodded the final ball to Jason Davidson as the hosts won comfortably.

Luongo is more used to playing at the likes of Yeovil Town's Huish Park or Scunthorpe's Glanford Park, where fewer than 10,000 go through the turnstiles.

But he appears unfazed at performing in front of packed crowds at giant stadiums as Australia go for what would be the biggest title in their history.

"To be fair I've only been tested at League One level so it is nice to be able to do it on such a big stage," Luongo told reporters.

"I'm just enjoying the whole thing," said the Sydney-born player. "If you're not enjoying it then you shouldn't be doing it and I always enjoy it," he added.

Saturday's clash against the undefeated Koreans, who beat Australia 1-0 in Group A, will be the Socceroos' sixth game in three weeks and Luongo said he was running on adrenalin.

"I think I'm more overwhelmed than worrying about how tired I am mentally," he admitted, saying it would be the biggest game of his career by far.

Australia coach Ange Postecoglou has been rebuilding after the disbanding of Australia's "golden generation" and Luongo is leading the way among the new faces.

Despite Postecoglou's continual rotation to keep his players fresh, Luongo has remained ever present.

"It seems like every game he's becoming more and more confident. He's been a fantastic bonus for us," Postecoglou told Sky Sports Radio.

Luongo's performances haven't gone unnoticed elsewhere, with Spanish side Sevilla and a couple of English Championship teams reportedly interested in the midfield dynamo.