Qantas Socceroo match-winner Robert Cornthwaite has set his sights on a regular squad berth after his heroics throughout Australia’s 2-1 triumph over the Korea Republic on Wednesday night.
Qantas Socceroo match-winner Robert Cornthwaite has set his sights on a regular squad berth after his heroics throughout Australia-s 2-1 triumph over the Korea Republic on Wednesday night.
His poachers-style match-winner aside, Cornthwaite was a solid performer for the Qantas Socceroos alongside Lucas Neill in central defence.
Well known to Korean fans due to his form at local K-League club Chunnam Dragons, Cornthwaite was recognised by local officials as the player of the match.
Such recognition capped an amazing few days for the former Adelaide United defender, who was a late addition to Holger Osieck-s squad as a result of injuries to Matt McKay, Adam Sarota and Luke Wilkshire.
“You can-t get too carried away but, I-m happy with what I did tonight, obviously there-s still things I need to improve on, and I know that,” Cornthwaite said.
“It-s only going to come with experience, I-ve got to keep playing as many games as I can with my club and, like every one says, if you do well with your club then the chance comes for your country.
“It-s a very positive result for the team, obviously limited preparations, we didn-t get the whole squad together until Monday night, so only really one training session together.”
Among the other new faces to make a positive impression in Hwaseong was Melbourne Heart defender Aziz Behich, who made a noteworthy contribution after replacing Carl Valeri near the hour mark.
Behich was one of four Qantas Socceroo debutants on the evening, and will evidently remember his first senior international appearance for some time.
“It feels unbelievable, first one, a good feeling and a good result as well, I-m very happy,” Behich said.
“I just wanted to get out there and just play and I think, just enjoy it, I had that in my mind, just to enjoy it, and it was pretty enjoyable for me.”
Behich-s former Melbourne Heart teammate, Red Star Belgrade striker Eli Babalj, was another to make the most of his senior international debut.
Babalj had only ten minutes to make an impression and certainly did so - most notably providing the assist for Cornthwaite-s match winner.
The 20-year-old looked to have done enough to net the winner himself after latching onto a loose ball in the penalty area, only for Cornthwaite to make sure of a goal on the goal line.
“It was just rolling around the line and it didn-t want to go in but luckily enough, it ended up being a goal, so, I-ll take the assist!” Babalj said.
“Representing your country, it was surreal, I-m happy to come on and debut - it was a top day, it can-t be better.”
The Qantas Socceroos return to Australia in 2013, for the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Oman at Sydney-s Stadium Australia at 7.30pm, Tuesday, 26 March, followed by Iraq, at 7.30pm on Tuesday, 18 June.
Tickets for both matches at Stadium Australia are on sale now through Ticketekor via phone, 132 849.
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