Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold explained how his side will take the positives from the draw with China as they endeavour to qualify for a fifth-consecutive FIFA World Cup.
Following a 1-1 draw with China in the United Arab Emirates, the Socceroos have now gone three games without a win in World Cup qualifying.
While Arnold could not hide his disappointment after the match, he preferred to focus on the positives from the performance.
“We were a bit sloppy at times but until the penalty, there was pretty much one team in the game and that penalty gave them energy,” Arnold said post-match.
“Dukey's done a great job and he works tirelessly upfront. He had a knock, which was the reason he came off, but Dukey is always a danger in front of the goal.
We moved the ball well, we created some decent chances and we've just got to be positive and move forward."
With six games played, the Socceroos have four huge encounters left as they endeavour to secure automatic qualification for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
However, Arnold’s men will not reconvene until late January when they host Vietnam before travelling to Oman.
Rather than bemoan an extended period without international football, the Socceroos boss hopes his players will find form before they reassemble next year.
“It's important they all go to their clubs and get more match minutes,” Arnold said.
The one positive is the A-League is starting again and some of the Australian boys will be fit for selection next time.”
It all begins on January 27 when the Socceroos host Vietnam, before a trip away to Oman a few days later on February 1.
Then, it all might come down to two massive matchups in late March as Australia face Japan at home, before closing out Round 3 against group leaders Saudi Arabia.
To qualify directly, Australia must finish either first or second in Group B while a third-place finish would send the Socceroos to a play-off against the third-place team from Group A, followed by an intercontinental play-off.