September 5, 2014 – 10:36AM
The Socceroos have equalled their worst ever losing streak but coach Ange Postecoglou insists another serving of pain from a world class opponent will boost long-term gain.
Australia were outclassed 2-0 by Belgium in Thursday’s friendly match in Liege, their first post-World Cup outing and the beginning of preparations for January’s Asian Cup.
The only other time an Australian ‘A’ team suffered as many consecutive losses was five straight defeats to South Africa in 1955.
Australia were thumped in most of those matches but Postecoglou’s defeat’s have been honourable and come at the hands of Croatia, Chile, Netherlands and Spain and Belgium – all inside the world’s top 16.
While Postecoglou is not a man comfortable with losing, the coach believes his squad is getting a priceless football education.
Defenders Chris Herd, Trent Sainsbury and Brad Smith made their debuts on Thursday against the world’s fifth-ranked side.
“That (experience) is what we’re looking for and that’s why these games are really important for us,” said Postecoglou, whose record at the helm now reads one win, one draw and six losses.
“They’re getting exposure to the most difficult environments.
“I think once we’re back playing at home, and we haven’t done that for a really long time, that will show them that this really tough period we’ve been through has been for a reason.”
Star striker Tim Cahill said the Socceroos were getting stronger by testing themselves against the best.
“I much prefer playing in these games than games that are in our favour,” Cahill said.
“There were glimpses where we played great football but I felt they (Belgium) were really sharp tonight and we need to get ourselves on that level.
“If we can keep that fitness and physicality and match them with that, that’s probably the next level for all of us as a team.”
While Australia’s young players did well against the World Cup quarter-finalists in Liege, Australia’s continued reliance in attack on veterans Cahill and Mark Bresciano was evident.
Bresciano was Australia’s best player in the first half, while Cahill had Australia’s best chance of the game.
The 21-year-old Massimo Luongo impressed off the bench when he replaced Bresciano, but playmaking and goalscoring remain areas of concern for the future.
Still, Postecoglou insists he’s not worried.
“They (Cahill and Bresciano) are still quality players so why wouldn’t you play them?,” Postecoglou said.
“I don’t think you just take people out because of an age or a number.
“I’m sure over the course of time we’ll be able to replace those players but right now I don’t feel the need to.”
Australia are without a win since Postecoglou’s reign began with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in November but they face a highly winnable assignment in Monday’s friendly against 83rd-ranked Saudi Arabia in London.
“I feel the boys are up to really try and stamp our authority against a team like Saudi Arabia,” Cahill said.
© 2014 AAP
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Source : The Brisbane Times