Australia’s greatest-ever goal-scorer Tim Cahill believes this current Socceroos crop isn’t far away from being a great team despite their loss to Belgium on Friday.
The Socceroos slumped to their fifth straight defeat after goals to Dries Mertens and Axel Witsel helped the World Cup quarter-finalists to a 2-0 win.
It was a mixed night for the young Australian squad, providing some eye-catching moments but also making a few mistakes which hindered their hopes of an upset.
“We’re only a bit away from being a great team. We showed me can play football now it’s about believing and taking it in against some of the best teams like Belgium,” Cahill said.
“The team they put out tonight and the players they put on were exceptional. They need to play, get games under their belt and at the same time get a feel for the pace.
“(Belgium) were on the ball from the start, you saw their physical fitness of how strong and competitive they were and that’s the next level for all of us to try and compete.
“This is a great test because I’d much prefer to play in games like this than ones where we are going to be the favourites.”
Cahill struggled to impose himself on the match, starved of service for much of the contest before he was replaced by debutant Brad Smith with 20 minutes to go.
The New York Red Bull star was isolated for much of the night in what was a heavyweight head-to-head battle with Belgium skipper Vincent Kompany.
“When you play against a team of this calibre you have to be patient. Trying to hold back Kompany and the other big guy is difficult,” Cahill said.
“It’s a harsh business. If you don’t finish then you can’t put a good grip on the game. I think when we look at the tape again we possibly could have done a lot better to affect them in the defence.
“It wasn’t the complete night, it’s going to take time but overall its great preparation (for the Asian Cup) because we played against a great outfit.”