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Australia to build on narrow qualifier win

03 Sep 2011 08:00:13

Australia to build on narrow qualifier win

Australia skipper Lucas Neill said Saturday his side are hoping to learn from their narrow win over lowly Thailand for next week's World Cup qualifier in Saudi Arabia.

The Socceroos scraped past the plucky Thais 2-1 in their opening match of Group D in Brisbane on Friday thanks to a late strike from substitute Alex Brosque.

Thailand -- ranked 98 places below their hosts -- threatened an upset when they took the lead in the 15th minute, but goals from Josh Kennedy and Brosque spared Australian blushes.

Australia now face a long trip to Saudi Arabia for their next qualifier in Dammam on Tuesday.

"It's great to come away with three points and now hopefully we can put a bad game behind us and learn and build from it," Neill said.

"We're a good team, we just had a bad night and we still managed to win, so is that a sign of a good team? I don't know.

"A bad performance and three points is something we can look back on and say we got away with it and hopefully we'll build on that now and we'll be laughing about it next June when we're in the next round, that's the objective."

Neill, who now plays his club football with Emirati champions Al Jazira after leaving Turkish club Galatasaray, paid tribute to the courageous Thais.

"Credit to Thailand, they played some really neat football, but we knew that if we kept putting them under pressure then eventually and hopefully our ability would shine through and just about was enough," he said.

Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who had harsh words with his midfielders during a first-half injury break, said it was wake-up call for the Socceroos.

"It was one of our worst performances for a long time and there are no excuses, but the positive is that we got the three points and we got a big kick up the backside," he said.

"That was disappointing but in the second half we got things together and on chances we definitely deserved to win the game."

Everton star Tim Cahill said he could see the positives out of the ragged showing.

"We feel as we get more game time together we can be more positive and the most positive thing is that we go to Saudi Arabia with a win under our belt," he said.

Australia's German coach Holger Osieck rejected suggestions his players were complacent, but said they almost paid for poor execution.

"The intent was good and the boys were far away from being complacent, but sub-consciously there is a little something that gives you a feeling," he said.

"The boys are realistic and down-to-earth, but at times what you intend to do and the execution can be a different thing."

Thailand coach Winfried Schafer said the journey back to Bangkok for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier with Oman could be an obstacle for his team.

"The problem about our next match against Oman is not the team, but the long flight back home and I hope my players can get plenty of rest and fluids ahead of the next match," the German said.

"The players are a little tired and Australia scored in the last four minutes so everyone in our team will learn from this match and they have to improve."


AFP

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