Milicic reacts to Australia U23's loss to Vietnam

Australian U23 Men’s National Team head coach Ante Milicic lamented his side’s inability to make the most of their opportunities in the loss to Vietnam at the AFC U23 Championships in China on Sunday night.

Despite dominating possession and chances in their Group D encounter, Nguyen Quang Hai’s deflected strike 18 minutes from time condemned Australia to a 1-0 defeat in Kunshan.

The young Aussies pushed hard for an equaliser late on but some desperate defending and wasteful finishing left them frustrated.

Milicic congratulated Vietnam on their victory and performance and admitted his team struggled to deal with their opposition’s defensive game plan.

“We knew what to expect in terms of the way [Vietnam] would set up and approach the game, a very defensive approach in a 5-4-1 formation,” Milicic said.

“We probably struggled at times to create some clear-cut chances and we were a bit vulnerable on the break and we could have dealt with those situations a bit better.

“In saying that, their goal was from a set piece and a deflection and towards the end it was obvious we created three or for good chances but the ball wouldn’t go in and we go home disappointed.

“We’ll quickly assess it and focus quickly on the next game which will be a difficult one against Korea.”

Australia U23 coach Ante Milicic
Australia U23 coach Ante Milicic.

Despite the defeat, Australia remain in second spot in the group on three points, one behind Korea and ahead of Syria on goal difference after those two nations played out a draw in the other match.

Only a win will ensure Australia progress to the quarter finals of the competition, while a draw will mean they will rely on the other result in their group goes their way.

After making a host of changes to the side that beat Syria on Thursday for the Vietnam clash, Milicic confirmed he would again change up his squad for the do-or-die clash with Korea.

“The plan was for this squad for as many players as possible to get this experience,” the Australian boss said.

“That was what we spoke about before the tournament. It’s duty of care for our players as well. Two day’s rest and the demands of international football are quite high.

“We want them to return to their clubs better for the experience but also in a good physical condition because that’s the bigger picture as well.”

Australia’s final Group D clash against Korea will be played on Wednesday night, kicking off at 10.30pm AEDT.

The match will be broadcast LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on FOX SPORTS.