Holger Osieck has defended Australia’s performance after they were fortunate to escape with a 0-0 draw against South Korea on Saturday.
The Socceroos were under immense pressure throughout much of the contest during the East Asian Cup opener in Seoul, with only the heroics of goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic keeping them in it.
Osieck claimed the uneven nature of the match was a result of South Korea’s superior physical condition, and praised his team for coming away with a point despite spending so much time pinned in their own half.
“Korea played as I expected, a young, ambitious team, they had great pace, good technique and they definitely put us under pressure,” he said.
“But we must consider that their team is in the middle of the season, and their fitness was outstanding, whereas our boys have not played competitively for a couple of months.
“So I knew I would be very difficult for us, as our fitness wasn’t as good as it is normally. But I want to give full credit for the boys for character, effort and fighting spirit.”
The remarkable form of Galekovic will lead to suggestions the Adelaide United shot-stopper can challenge Mark Schwarzer for the regular number one shirt, and Osieck admitted he could now have a tough choice to make.
“I can only agree that Galekovic had a great performance, the way he played today put him in the frame,” he said.
“As I said before, this will be a good opportunity for me to look at players for the future and there were definitely some outstanding individual performance that gives me hope that some of these players can stay with the team and become contestants for a position.”
Osieck, who handed debuts to Mitchell Duke and Erik Paartalu, may now consider making more changes for the game against Japan on Thursday, but would not be pressed on which members of the squad will come under consideration.
“In these circumstances you just need to be realistic, you can’t expect a great performance from players who haven’t played in months,” he said.
“I have been with these boys for two and a half weeks, some of them were in the World Cup qualification camp, I know some of them very well as players and the others I am very close to them on daily basis and I know already who is in the position to play and who needs more time.”
Mark Milligan was withdrawn for Paartalu at half-time, with Osieck claiming the substitution was a precaution after the Melbourne Victory midfielder picked up a yellow card.
Dario Vidosic meanwhile limped out of the stadium suffering from a badly bruised leg, but is confident of recovering quickly.