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Loss hurts, but "courageous and cheeky" Socceroos earn high praise

Soccer

It's hard to believe that Australia's tussle with Germany at the Confederations Cup was Tom Rogic's first tournament match for the Socceroos.

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While he debuted for the national side in 2012 as a teenager, injuries prevented the fleet-footed midfielder from making the World Cup in Brazil or Asian Cup on home soil.

His opportunity finally came on Monday night in Russia, and Rogic seized it.

The 24-year-old scored a fine equaliser to temporarily halt the Germans and had a strong hand in Australia’s second, winning the free-kick and lashing in a strike that eventually led to Tomi Juric’s tap-in.

But world champions Germany gave Australia a reminder of their place in football’s pecking order with a 3-2 win at the Confederations Cup.

Coach Ange Postecoglou said he saw a player that grew into the contest and would continue to grow in Russia.

“He worked real hard. He didn’t get into great areas (early) because we were chasing the opportunity and just didn’t get enough of the ball to him,” Postecoglou said.

“In that second half he was what we expected him to be.

“It was his first game in a big tournament. He’ll get better and I’m sure he’ll take confidence.”

The modest Celtic midfielder didn’t want to talk about his own performance, instead saying he saw enough of an improvement in the team’s second half to be confident for their next-up clash with Cameroon.

“We can certainly build on that, no doubt. We can certainly play a lot better than we did. We grew in to it,” Rogic said.

“There’s a lot of positives to take.”

Rogic wasn’t the only tournament debutant against Russia.

Aaron Mooy, Milos Degenek and Bailey Wright also appeared for the first time at a FIFA or AFC tournament.

Wright reported the loss had dampened spirits in the dressing room – even though they were up against the world champions.

“This was a must win for us and we didn’t win it. It hurts,” Wright said.

“We’re hurting because we set high expectations of ourselves and each other.

“When we don’t reach them and reach our goals it’s disappointing.

“You can’t dwell on it for too long, because if you do it can affect you. We’ll stick together and make sure we’re ready in a few days time to go out there and get a result.”

Germany’s World Cup-winning coach Joachim Low dished up rare praise for the Socceroos.

The long-term Germany mentor earned his first win over Postecoglou’s Australia; after dismissing Australia 4-0 at the 2010 World Cup, an experimental German side under Low’s leadership was beaten in 2011 in a friendly.

Postecoglou then took his Asian Cup winners to Germany two months after their 2015 continental success, claiming a 2-2 draw in Kaiserslautern.

That result and Australia’s second-half showing in Russia was enough for Low to give the tick to Postecoglou’s renovation job on the Socceroos’ style.

“What I have seen is there has been a development, a positive development,” he said through a translator.

“This team in 2010 – and for a number of years – was playing with long and high balls. That was easy to defend against.

“In the last three or four years they have changed.

“They do more combinations, not playing the long ball.

“It’s a team that is courageous and sometimes cheeky enough to challenge the opponents and attack very boldly.

“There are not many teams doing that. They are very bold.

“I think they have developed very well in the last three or four years.”

-AAP

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