The Caltex Socceroos go into their final two crucial World Cup qualifiers this August and September with their reputation enhanced, according to two of the world's most respected football minds who met in Monday morning's Confederations Cup final.
While Australia’s campaign ultimately saw them miss out on progression to the semi-finals at the Confederations Cup in Russia, they more than matched it with a couple of the world’s top-ranked nations who fought out the final (won by Germany 1-0 over Chile).
Ange Postecoglou’s side opened Group B with a narrow 3-2 loss to reigning world champions Germany - ranked three in the world last month - before 1-1 draws with both Cameroon and world number four-ranked South American powerhouse Chile.
And their impressive performances caught the eye of Germany’s World Cup winning boss Joachim Low, who praised Ange Postecoglou’s side for their progressive style.
LOW: SOCCEROOS 'COURAGEOUS AND BOLD'
"What I have seen is there has been a development, a positive development," the respected German boss said after their clash in Sochi.
"This team in 2010 - and for a number of years - was playing with long and high balls. That was easy to defend against.
"In the last three or four years they have changed.
"They do more combinations, not playing the long ball. It's a team that is courageous and sometimes cheeky enough to challenge the opponents and attack very boldly.
"There are not many teams doing that. They are very bold. I think they have developed very well in the last three or four years."
PIZZI: SOCCEROOS' INTENSITY PUT HEAT ON CHILE
Chile boss Antonio Pizzi was also impressed with the Socceroos’ up-tempo style, likening the intensity of the clash with a FIFA World Cup knockout match.
“[Australia] were excellent, they performed very well. They played very aggressive football, maybe they were a little too aggressive,” Chile’s coach said after the draw in Moscow.
"They were very strong and in many cases we are normally stronger - when we have to fight for a ball, we win it.
"But in this case our opponents managed to get the ball. I didn't underestimate Australia at all.
“In fact, this was more or less the same level that you can see in the quarter-finals of a World Cup. I think it could have been quite possible.
"Our opponents kept the pressure all the time and we really had to fight. We did not feel completely comfortable on the pitch. Our opponents really stopped us. They closed every gap.”
NEXT CHALLENGE FOR ANGE'S AUSSIES
Ange Postecoglou’s side will look to build on their performances in Russia as they prepare for their final two World Cup qualifiers against Japan (August 31) in Saitama and Thailand (September 5) on home soil.
Two wins will all but ensure Australia books their ticket to Russia in September, while a draw and win should also be enough to finish in the top-two automatic qualification spots as the campaign for Russia 2018 reaches its very exciting finale.
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