Tim Cahill was delighted with the Socceroos’ performance in their 1-0 Asian Cup loss to Korea Republic, but has urged his team to keep “switched on” for the full 90 minutes.
In a blockbuster final group game on Saturday night, the Socceroos dominated for large parts of a full-blooded clash for top spot in Group A.
But the Socceroos were hit with a wonderfully crafted first half goal which decided the game when Lee Jeonghyeop finished off a neat move to score for Korea in the 33rd minute.
Socceroo coach Ange Postecoglou admitted later the team “switched off” at a key moment to concede the deciding goal in Brisbane.
Cahill agreed but was full of praise for the performance of Australia, who now face China in the quarter-finals also at Brisbane Stadium this Thursday night.
“I think we can reflect well,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“Even though we lost, the scoreline doesn’t reflect the full picture.
“Overall when you watch the game, and I watched the game last night, we did really penetrate them and moved the ball well.
“We went for it. We’re not going to sit back. And in the second half they didn’t know what hit them.
“But if you don’t score it’s going to look worse than it looks… just a bit of quality in the final ball and we know we’re going to hurt teams.
“Unfortunately one lapse in concentration and you concede a goal.”
Cahill defended the raft of changes in the starting XI, which has drawn criticism in some quarters.
“If Krusey scores, I score, Tomi scores it would’ve been genius. If you analyse it on result on not watch the full 95 minutes then you’d probably question yourself.”
Cahill paid Uli Stielike’s Taeguk Warriors a compliment after their solid defensive performance on a steaming hot night in the Queensland capital.
“They need to get some credit for the result,” but he added, “It was surprising to see Korea go long in their play a lot.”
The Socceroos recovered in Brisbane on Sunday ahead of Thursday night’s clash with one of the surprise packets of the Asian Cup.
After such stifling heat (which also attracted a swarm of moths) on Saturday night there are no concerns over the squad’s ability to recover adequately for China, assured Cahill.
“We’ve recovered well. We’ve got a really fit squad. We’ve been preparing weeks before in this [type] of heat in Melbourne. We’re definitely not going to make excuses about the weather.
“We’re a fit young team and we know we can back up games.”
China topped Group B after wins over Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.
“For us it’s about keeping switched on,” added Cahill.
“We know what we can do and that one loss won’t make us take a step back.
“Maybe it’s fate, maybe we are meant to play China in the quarter-finals and stay in Brisbane.
“It’ll be one of the most watched games globally and in Asia.
“If we can press them and get in their faces and run them into the ground and play the football we know, then we’ll definitely cause them problems.
He added of China: “We’ll respect them but I want us to focus on us."
The Socceroos will face China PR in the Quarter-Finals of the AFC Asian Cup at Brisbane Stadium on Thursday 22 January (8.30pm local kick off). Click here to purchase tickets.