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Neill rapt with young Australia team-mates

Australia captain Lucas Neill was full of praise for his largely inexperienced side that overcame South Korea on Wednesday.

Nikita Rukavytsya and Robert Cornthwaite netted their first goals for the national team as Australia came from behind to beat South Korea 2-1 in Hwaseong.

The win was an added bonus for manager Holger Osieck, who named six players in the starting line up with a total of just 34 international caps between them.

As the match wore on, Osieck also handed debuts to emerging talents Aziz Behic, Tom Rogic, Eli Babalj and Matthew Leckie.

With limited preparation, an inexperienced squad and plenty of nerves pre-game, Neill applauded the team’s character and attitude as they handed South Korea their first defeat on home soil in more than 27 matches.

“Considering we had two days preparation, lots of new faces and some nerves in the changeroom before the game, I thought it was a fantastic effort,” Neill said.

“Whenever you play a Korean team it is always going to be difficult, they proved to be a great challenge today but the character we showed, given some of the experience we had out there, it was fantastic.

“The attitude has been very good. There is definitely talent in the squad and great credit to the guys, they didn’t come out and show too much nerve.

“It was a little bit of a slow start but when we got going everybody took their opportunity, showed that they really wanted to be out there, showed that they warranted a place in the squad.

“And in the end we got what I felt was just reward.”

The Al Wasl defender believes Osieck has some welcomed selection headaches ahead of Australia’s final four World Cup Qualifying fixtures, starting with Oman in March next year.

“It’s also now given the manager some nice selection problems and a really deep squad to chose from,” he said.

“It’s going to mean players have to be in form at club level to come in and play for their country.

“And because it gives us more options, more competition for places and that can only be a good thing for our campaign.”

Meanwhile, Rogic is keen for more time in and amongst the national side after getting his first taste of senior international football on Wednesday.

The Central Coast Mariners midfielder, one of four debutants, was handed a 22-minute cameo, capping off a remarkable rise to fame after winning Nike Football’s competition The Chance in 2011.

“It’s a childhood dream of mine so to achieve that and do it here tonight, is something special,” said the 19-year-old, who has scored two goals in six A-League games this season.

“I’m not getting carried away but like anyone else in the squad tonight, you want to stay part of the team.

“So I’ll go back to my club and do everything I can to my put case forward for another call up.”

Wed 14 November, 2012
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