Australia’s stand-in skipper, Mark Milligan, says the Socceroos’ 1-0 loss to South Korea was especially tough to take considering the effort the players had to put in in stifling Brisbane conditions.
The Socceroos enjoyed more possession and created more clear chances but were undone by a well-taken first half goal from Lee Jeonghyeop.
Milligan refused to blame the high temperature for the loss, but did say it did sting more when the players had given their all for the cause.
“I don’t think it took away from the game too much, to be honest,” he said.
“I think both sides put in a good shift and the quality of the game was still decent, considering.
“There was definitely belief on the pitch that we were going to get something out of the match.
It’s harder to take because conditions were so tough, it was very hot and we worked extremely hard, and when you put in that kind of effort you want to get the results for it.”
The Melbourne Victory midfielder maintained Australia had done enough to get the win or draw needed to top the group.
As a result of the loss, the Socceroos are likely to face a tougher draw if they are to progress through the tournament, with Japan looming as a potential semi-final opponent.
“We started a little bit slowly, I think once we kicked into gear we played some decent stuff,” Milligan said.
“We still did things the way we want to do things, we stuck to our morals, our disciplines, and at the end of the day I think we created as many chances as we did in our first two games.
“We just didn’t take them.”
As for being handed the captaincy duties, Milligan said the honour was especially pleasing during a home tournament.
“Both Timmy and I have stepped in while Mile’s been away and it’s exciting to play in front of my family on home soil, and it’s exciting to captain my country in front of my family.”
The Socceroos will face China PR in the Quarter-Finals of the AFC Asian Cup at Brisbane Stadium on Thursday 22 January (8.30pm local kick off). Click here to purchase tickets.