Australia’s players can take huge positives away from their 1-1 draw in Japan on Tuesday, despite conceding an injury-time equaliser that prevented Holger Osiek’s men moving into second place in their World Cup qualifying group.
The Socceroos rightly took the lead with just eight minutes to go through Thomas Oar yet Keisuke Honda’s converted penalty deep in stoppage time meant the points were split following the Group B clash.
The result leaves Australia two points off automatic qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but with a game in hand many football betting fans expect them to safely progress.
The main positive to come out of Japan is how the defence kept strong right until the last minute. Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was on good form, handling efforts from Shinji Kagawa and Honda, and although Japan wasted decent opportunities throughout the Socceroos dug deep to keep their opponents at bay.
At the other end, Brett Holman looked dangerous but spurned a hopeful effort early in the first half and Robbie Kruse could maybe have done better with a shot that forced the best out of Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima. The Aussie goal may have come against the run of play but Oar deserved some luck and after a determined run he chipped a cross-come-shot over the keeper and into the net.
Determination is exactly what Osiek demanded from his team and were it not for a solid midfield Japan would have won the game. They were unlucky to concede a penalty off Matt McKay’s handball when the player’s back was turned, but sadly that’s football and few Australian’s who bet on football would not have taken a point before kick off.
Up next for Osiek’s men is a vital clash with fourth-place Jordan in Melbourne on 11 June. Should the players take those positives from the Japan game they should have no problem against Jordan or Iraq a week later and secure their place at the 2014 World Cup.