Australia U23s Men's National Team coach Ante Milicic believes his squad will be better for their AFC U23 Championships experience despite missing out on a quarter-final berth.
Milicic's side finished third in Group D following a fighting 3-2 defeat to Korea Republic on Wednesday night.
Nick Cowburn and Trent Buhagiar both struck inside the final 20 minutes to inspire hope of a comeback from a three-goal deficit, but the late rally ultimately fell short of the three points needed to advance.
"We're very disappointed not to progress after the good start against Syria," Milicic told reporters.
"The defeat against Vietnam set us back a bit because we knew we had to chase the game tonight and win to go through, which we were capable of doing.
"But on the night we just gave ourselves too big a mountain to climb.
"I'm super proud of the effort from our boys in a short space of time, the way they approached the game and the way they kept going.
"We definitely learned some lessons from this tournament and we'll reflect on it. It's a great experience for these boys to take with them in their careers."
Milicic pointed to his team's lack of care in possession during the first half as key to cost them a result.
"That first pass out of pressure really let us down. When we played the ball into those central areas we got caught with our own decisions," Milicic said.
"There were too many turnovers in the first half and we just couldn't get into our rhythm.
"Korea is a very good team and a lot of that has to do with their aggressive approach and pressing, but it's definitely something we'll need to work and deal with better."
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