Socceroos coach Holger Osieck praised his men following their 1-1 draw with Japan in Asian World Cup qualifying at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday.
Australia were reduced to 10 men in the 55th minute of the match in Brisbane when Matt Milligan was controversially shown his second yellow card.
And their task became harder still when Atsuto Uchida put the visitors ahead 1-0 ten minutes later.
But the Socceroos held on to take a point after Luke Wilkshire converted a penalty in the 70th minute.
German Osieck, who took over as Socceroos coach in August 2010, was impressed with his team’s resilience in fighting back to earn a draw.
“What our team delivered tonight was unbelievable,” he said.
“It’s hard to describe how they did that, how they managed to fight their way through adversity.”
Japan went into the match as slight favourites to take all three points, but were met by a combative Australian outfit, which used its strength and physicality to steal the early ascendency.
Osieck said the performance would make future opponents of the Socceroos take notice.
“Before the match we knew that both teams had respect for each other and we demonstrated very clearly that we can do the job with this group,” he said.
“We sent a message not only to Japan but to the other teams as well.”
Osieck’s pre-match strategy suffered a blow when creative midfielder Mark Bresciano was forced from the field with a hip injury in the 13th minute.
When his replacement Milligan was dismissed, Osieck thought Australia’s chances of victory went with him.
“The early substitution had a negative impact and limited the opportunity to make attacking and tactical changes in the second half,” he said.
“One man less was another blow as the Japanese midfielders moved the ball well and really tested our resistance.
“We are very happy that our fighting spirit was rewarded.”
Osieck was damning in his assessment of referee Khalil Al Ghamdi’s decision to show Milligan his second yellow for what the official deemed to be high contact.
“I was of the opinion at the moment it happened that it was definitely not a foul and I got confirmation when I saw the replay,” he said.
“Milligan tried to kick the ball and he couldn’t see (Uchida) coming from the back, it was definitely no foul because he didn’t touch Uchida at all.
“I don’t know about the referee’s position but from my position it didn’t look like dangerous play.”
Osieck said he was impressed with the way Tim Cahill and Alex Brosque worked together in attack for the Socceroos.
“They were a very efficient pair up-front, in particular Alex, what he brought to the team was exceptional.
“It was the first time they played together – down the road I am happy to have another alternative for the position up front.”
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