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Ange hails 'work in progress' as Socceroos keep dream alive

Soccer

Coach Ange Postecoglou has called for patience with his Socceroos after scrapping a vital 3-2 win against Saudi Arabia in a crucial World Cup qualifier in Adelaide last night.

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Tomi Juric’s brace and a cracking Tom Rogic winner gave Australia victory against the plucky Saudis, the triumph keeping Australia’s hopes alive of earning direct qualification for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

With two group games remaining, the Socceroos drew level with the Saudis and leaders Japan, who have a game in hand.

The top two nations in the group secure World Cup berths while the third-placed country is forced into a precarious play-off route.

Juric scored twice – and so did the Saudis – in an opening half which Postecoglou thought was nervy from his side.

Tomi Juric heads a goal to put Australia a goal up in the first half. Photo: David Mariuz / AAP

“We were just a little bit too anxious and turned the ball over a little bit too often,” he said.

“The second half we played well. We got on top of them.”

Postecoglou said the jittery opening half was understandable, given the callowness of his players.

“We have had that at times during this qualifying campaign,” he said.

“For a lot of these guys it’s their first qualifying campaign and they are still learning the nuances of international football.

“We had a few boys out there who hadn’t played for a little while, but to be fair to them the intent was still there.

“And that is all I ever ask for, to be honest. As long as the intent is there, I kind of know we will overcome whatever we need to overcome.”

Postecoglou said Australia’s public appeared impatient for his batch of players to fully ripen.

“We’re making progress all the time in the way we play, we’re not travelling too badly,” he said.

“It feels almost like we have been under siege all week but we’re yet to lose (in the qualifying phase).

“We’re not the finished product. As long as I’m in charge, we probably will never be because I want us to keep improving.

“But we are going OK.

“We’re in a little bit of a rush with all these guys – we compare them to our best-ever players when they were in their best-ever form.

“But a lot of the guys out there today are all 22, 23, 24, played between 10 and 20 internationals. They are just beginning to find their feet.”

Australia meet Japan away on August 31 and then host Thailand on September 5 with two wins likely enough to book direct passage to the World Cup.

More immediately, the squad travels to Melbourne today for a friendly against Brazil next Tuesday.

The Socceroos then travel to Russia for the Confederations Cup later this month.

Saudi Arabian coach Bert van Marwijk said he was angry at some “personal mistakes” from his players which led to Australian goals.

“We didn’t have any problems with the attacking play of Australia,” he said.

“We made mistakes ourselves, that was the problem.”

-AAP

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