Ange Postecoglou expects his Caltex Socceroos to go to even greater heights when they take on a determined Greece outfit in Sydney on Saturday night.
Postecoglou and the rest of the squad that performed so admirably in the 2-1 loss to England touched down in Sydney late on Sunday night and immediately switched their focus to the two-game Dodoni Series.
While the absence of the Asian-based players meant it was an under-strength squad that took on the Three Lions, the likes of Tim Cahill, Trent Sainsbury, Mat Leckie and Nathan Burns are back to bolster the side.
Apostolos Giannou, Ryan McGowan and young fullbacks Alex Gersbach and Jason Geria are also in to give Postecoglou plenty of options.
“The challenging exercise for the England game was that we had a lot of guys missing and probably even more importantly than that but a lot of guys going into it hadn’t played in a while,” Postecoglou told reporters on Monday.
“Maty Ryan hadn’t played a club game since we played Jordan [in March], Josh Risdon, Jamie Maclaren, Aaron Mooy and Massimo Luongo hadn’t played in over a month.
“It was a real challenge to the way we set up and we tried to stick to our principles knowing some of the players weren’t up to it physically.
“Now we’ve got the boys flying on from all over Asia who all played on the weekend so they are all in good condition. It gives is a lot more solid foundation to play our sort of football.
Greece coach Michael Skibbe was in Sunderland to watch the Socceroos live and Postecoglou expects the visitors will be well-prepared and tough to crack.
“Greece will be a very determined opponent. It’s exactly the type of game we need. They will be a little bit more resilient defensively and make things harder for us,” the Socceroos boss said.
“They are building as well so they will be pretty determined to do well. It’s going to be a different kind of challenge but a good one.
“Playing at home we pride ourselves on being a really dominant team and that will be tested as well.”
One of the criticisms of Australia’s performance against England was the lack of genuine goal-scoring chances despite the amount of possession they enjoyed, especially in the first half.
While admitting it’s an area they can improve, Postecoglou denied the side lacks a ruthless streak in attack and expects things to improve with the likes of Cahill, Leckie, Burns and Giannou back in the squad.
“I don’t think we lacked a cutting edge up front [against England]. We were creative we were playing away from home which is always a challenge to create opportunities and I still think we did that.
“Now coming into the Greece games we get a couple of our strikers back, I think we’re looking healthy.”
Since the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Postecoglou has been trying to increase the depth in the squad and feels the side is now in a strong position with the next stage of qualifiers getting underway in September.
“A lot of the leagues are now shutting down and boys are going on a break but come September I’m pretty confident I will have 30-35 players that I will feel really confident about for what’s ahead,” he said.
“That was the most important thing in these last 12-18 months was we build a real solid base. I think we’re in good shape for what’s going to be a real tough challenge qualifying for the World Cup.”
Saturday’s clash at ANZ Stadium is the first in the two-game Dodoni Series, with the second match to be played at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, June 7.
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