Mathew Leckie believes the Socceroos have proved the critics wrong at the FIFA World Cup™ but now wants to turn positive performances into points in their crucial clash against Peru.
As the lowest-ranked nation in Group C, Australia was expected to struggle at the tournament against France, Denmark and Peru.
But Bert van Marwijk’s side has more than matched the French and Danes in their opening two matches, unlucky not to have more than the one point gained from the draw with Denmark on Thursday.
And the Socceroos’ excellent displays haven’t gone unnoticed, with Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio describing Australia as one of the “great surprises” of the tournament so far.
"We have definitely put in two really good performances that probably no one would have expected," Leckie told reporters in Kazan.
"Although we've only picked up a point, I think the performances deserved more. I guess, we were probably a write-off before the tournament started, no one knew anything about our team, especially those that aren't in our group because it's not important to them.
"It's always nice to get praise from other coaches and teams to say that they're surprised about how we're playing. But we knew that we would be better than what everyone expected.
"We prepared really well for this tournament and tactically we've been very disciplined and we know exactly what we want to do.
"I think in both games of the tournament it's worked very well. It's always nice to get praise, but at the end of the day we've still got a job to do and that's to get three points to try and get through to the next round."
The Socceroos still have a chance to reach the knockout phase heading into the final match on Wednesday morning (AEST) – live on SBS and Optus Sport.
They must beat Peru in Sochi and then hope France beats Denmark – as well as overturn a two-goal deficit on goal difference to the Danes.
While the Socceroos had the day off on Saturday, they’ll return to the pitch tomorrow with most eyes on who will lead the attack in place of the injured Andrew Nabbout.
Tomi Juric, Jamie Maclaren and veteran Tim Cahill are all in contention for the spot.
While van Marwijk has used the same 14 players in both matches so far, defender Aziz Behich says everyone is preparing to play against Peru.
“Everyone has to be ready, no one is comfortable that their position is their own and that’s something good we have in this squad,” the left-back said.
“We’ve got great players in every position more than once, so it’s just to make sure we stay on our toes and we push each other.
“Ultimately we’re all striving for the same goal and we’re all in it together and we don’t want this journey to end.
“We’re pushing each other and we’ll continue doing that as long as we’re in this tournament.
“Credit to the boys that haven’t been playing, they’ve pushed us and it shows the way we’ve played on the weekend that they’re a big part of preparing and they’re always ready to go.”
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Behich added on the prospect of Cahill seeing his first game-time in Russia: “Timmy is a true professional, it shows the way he works on the pitch in training every day and he’s just a proper example for all of us, not just the young boys.
“Just the way he goes about his job, mentally, he’s always strong and ready to go, so we love having Tim as a part of our group and we all know what he can do.
“I know if he’s called upon by the coach, then that’s the coaching staff’s decision, not ours. We just have to work hard on the pitch and we just need to keep ourselves ready. If Timmy’s been called upon, no doubt he’ll do a job for us.”
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