Caltex Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou was pleased to have overcome the first hurdle on the Road to Russia, with his side implementing his game plan perfectly against Iraq on Thursday night.
Australia defeated Iraq 2-0 in Perth thank to goals from Massimo Luongo and Tomi Juric as the Caltex Socceroos made the perfect start to qualifying in front of almost 19,000 fans.
Against an Iraq side happy to sit back and try and frustrate the hosts, the Caltex Socceroos dominated possession and created a host of chances but had to wait until the second half to cash in.
And it played out just like Postecoglou thought it would.
“They [Iraq] were doing a lot of running, trying to block gaps from us,” he told Fox Sports.
“But they are human beings, they are not robots. At some point they’re not going to make that run and we’re going to be able to punish them.
“We still had opportunities in the first half as well. A lot of what I do is wearing down opposition that sits back.
“If they are going to sit off, we’re going to make them work. It might not hurt them on the scoreboard early but I always believe we’ll come out on top.”
Pleasingly for Postecoglou was the patience his side showed despite not getting a breakthrough before the break.
Juric, given the striking role ahead of Tim Cahill and Apo Giannou was a constant threat and set up Luongo’s opener before scoring his match-sealer on 64 minutes.
The FC Luzern striker missed a glorious opportunity just before his goal, with Postecoglou admitting he almost substituted Juric before he found the back of the net, tap in from Aaron Mooy’s corner.
“He worked his backside off and I was thinking about taking [Juric] off but after he missed that chance I was praying he would get a goal because is performance deserved it,” the Socceroo boss said.
“He worked awfully hard. We were going to make a substitution just before the corner and I said ‘leave him on’ and I’m pleased he got the goal.
“All good strikers don’t worry about the one they missed the worry about the next one.”
Australia now heads to Abu Dhabi for Wednesday morning’s (AEST) clash with UAE, who sprung an upset by beating Japan 2-1 on Thursday night.