Caltex Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou believes his players deserve to be rewarded with a World Cup berth after overcoming Thailand 2-1 to keep their automatic qualification hopes alive.
Mat Leckie buried a late winner at AAMI Park to send Australia three points clear of Group B rivals Saudi Arabia, who host Japan in the early hours of Wednesday morning (AEST) in Jeddah.
EXPLAINER: The equation for our Caltex Socceroos
Anything but a win for Saudi Arabia will have the Caltex Socceroos booking their tickets directly to Russia, rather than preparing for the play-off route.
Postecoglou sees that as fair reward for the team's refusal to be discouraged by a string of near-misses.
PRIDE IN PERSISTENCE
“I can’t fault the players. We hit the post three times, we had a couple cleared off the line, it’s a game of inches,” Postecoglou told Fox Sports.
“It’s been a hard campaign for the boys but we’ve lost one game.
“They’ve stuck to the task and the challenges I’ve thrown at them. I think they deserve to go through.
“The players and the team have done everything I’ve asked of them and more.
“They’ve really believed in what we’re wanting to do and today was further evidence of that.
“It can be a cruel game sometimes but they did everything they could to get the goals.”
With their immediate fate hinging on the result in Jeddah, Postecoglou revealed that much of the squad will be gathering to watch the clash between Saudi Arabia and Japan.
However, staying tuned-in won’t be as easy for some globe-trotting members of the group.
“I think some of the boys are actually flying out before the end [of the match] so I guess they will have to get on their WiFi on the plane and see how it goes.
“We will wait to see what happens and we will address that afterwards.”
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