Socceroos satisfied after snapping winless drought
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou was satisfied that the Socceroos were making progress after they won their first match in 10 months with a 3-2 friendly victory over Saudi Arabia in London on Monday night.
Sydney: Australia coach Ange Postecoglou was satisfied that the Socceroos were making progress after they won their first match in 10 months with a 3-2 friendly victory over Saudi Arabia in London on Monday night.
Just over four months before they host the Asian Cup, goals from Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak in the first six minutes gave Australia an early cushion but they were made to sweat for the victory after a Saudi fightback in the last 20 minutes.
After losing all three of their matches at the World Cup and a friendly against Belgium last week, the Socceroos needed a win of some sort to end a barren spell that went back to a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Sydney last November.
"There were some good lessons and there was still some progress. I know exactly where we`re at and we`ll just keep moving forward," Postecoglou told Fox TV at Craven Cottage.
"There were some really good performances, especially from some of the young players in the first half.
"I think moving forward we`ve created some depth, we`ve exposed some guys to international football. As we get closer to the Asian Cup, we`ll have a bigger pool to choose from."
Massimo Luongo, making his first start for his country, was among the young players who shone for the Socceroos after a lively performance as an attacking midfielder.
"Massimo was excellent I thought and we probably could have used him more," Postecoglou said.
"He`s a very talented player and we`ll keep putting him out there and I`m sure he`ll learn more every time we put him out there."
After Hassan Muath had scored Saudi Arabia`s first goal in the 71st minute, it was debutant centre half Bailey Wright who poked the ball home to restore Australia`s two-goal cushion.
Wright is the first player apart from Cahill and skipper Jedinak to score for Australia since Postecoglou took over as coach last October.
An early injury to Alex Wilkinson meant Wright ended up playing with Trent Sainbury at the heart of an inexperienced defence, which contributed to the late nerves after Taiseer Al Jassam scored Saudi Arabia`s second six minutes from time.
Cahill, who has now scored 35 international goals, said the defensive lapses were less important than the team discovering a ruthlessness in front of goal before the Asian Cup.
"We`re not worried about conceding a few goals, we`re more worried about the intent with which we play because we need to be ready in January," he said.
"Nobody wants to concede goals but for us there`s been a lot of questions about (scoring) goals and whether we can deal with teams like this.
"But overall, we`re moving forward and progressing well."
Australia`s next friendlies are against the United Arab Emirates on Oct. 10 and Qatar four days later as they continue their preparations for the Jan. 9-31 Asian Cup.