Socceroos show enough in loss to Belgium to give Ange Postecoglou hope for the future

September 5, 2014 – 10:52AM

Michael Lynch

SENIOR SPORTS REPORTER WITH THE AGE

Ange Postecoglou looks on as his side are easily beaten.

Ange Postecoglou looks on as his side are easily beaten. Photo: Getty Images

LIEGE, Belgium: Socceroo boss Ange Postecoglou is adamant that the only way his young players can learn to play at the highest level is by taking on the best they can in friendly internationals.

Even though Australia was seen off easily enough by Belgium in Liege in the early hours of Friday morning, Postecoglou believes that he saw enough in the 2-0 defeat to give him hope that the rebuilding of his squad is ongoing.

The coach gave debuts to Chris Herd and Trent Sainsbury in defence, and gave a first run off the bench to Liverpool youngster Brad Smith. There was also game time for Massimo Luongo and Josh Brillante in a match decided by a first half Dries Mertens goal and a super second-half strike by midfielder Axel Witsel.

Belgium, as expected, dominated proceedings and could perhaps have stretched their advantage had their finishing been better.

Australia carved out a couple of first-half chances for Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano, but both were dealt with as the hosts stamped their authority on the game.

Postecoglou was left to rue what he felt were fundamental errors that made it difficult for his team to compete against such quality opponents.

“We could have got one back. We had some good moments,” he said.

“I  thought there were good periods where we matched the intensity and tempo. The second half  got a bit scrappy for us.

“We still had our moments (but)  we were making fundamental mistakes and getting punished … there are not going to be many countries that come here and dominate a game of football. I think there was enough there to show us we were progressing…

“I thought Trent Sainsbury for a debut against some quality opposition was very good. He’s not going to come to many more difficult places than here. Herdy was good until he got his knock. The rest of the guys will learn from that. Mat Ryan (who made a number of good saves) was good tonight.

“We are disappointed because we made some fundamental errors that cost us, and that’s the kind of thing we need to eliminate.”

Herd’s debut lasted barely a half, the Aston Villa utility, who has not played much football in recent times, succumbing to another injury.

Postecoglou and his opposite number, Marc Wilmots, rotated through several substitutions in the second period and the match lost much of its structure and shape as a result.

Robbie Kruse, the injured striker, was an absentee in this game but the coach is hoping that if he can prove his fitness by training over the next few days he might be able to play some part in the game against Saudi Arabia in London on Monday.

Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

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