The Socceroos may have a few issues heading into the Asian Cup but ones that can be easily fixed, according to defender Alex Wilkinson.
Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat to Japan in Osaka was Australia’s eighth defeat of a disappointing 2014 in their last competitive hit-out before January’s tournament.
Both the home side’s goals came after Ange Postecoglou’s side had dominated the highly-rated Japanese outfit in the first half, only to be punished for switching off at set pieces.
It’s left serious questions about the Socceroos ability to lift their game in time for the Asian Cup.
“It’s really disappointing as we spent (the day before the game) working on set pieces,” Wilkinson said.
“The first one someone’s completely free on the back post which is pretty unforgiveable. The second ones come across, I’ve gone out and he’s got past me too easy and I’ve had no cover….it should never have happened.
“On a positive side of things, set pieces are something that can be fixed easily but come Asian Cup time, we can’t afford to concede by set pieces.
“Games can be tight and decided on these sorts of things so we have to improve.”
Skipper Mile Jedinak was proud of his side’s effort, especially in the first 45 minutes, but conceded they could do little once Japan decided “to step up a gear”.
“We knew maybe they underestimated that slightly but you can’t take away how we performed in that first half,” the Crystal Palace midfielder said.
“The boys carried out the instructions and took it to them, it’s a shame we couldn’t do it for the full 90 and it’s a shame that two set pieces that did the damage.
“We pride ourselves on not conceding too many from set piece. It’s better that happened today than in two months’ time, now we can plan and rectify that as a group.”
Postecoglou opted to leave Tim Cahill out of the starting side, with Robbie Kruse, James Troisi and Mathew Leckie leading the attack.
While Cahill came off the bench to score another trademark header, Troisi was pleased with the way the trio combined and says it’s important the side has other option besides the country’s all-time leading scorer.
“There were a lot of positives, not so many clear cut chances but good passages of play,” Troisi said.
“It worked well and we’ll continue to progress and try and get better with that. We can’t just rely on (Cahill) all the time.
“We’ll go to our clubs but when we get back we’ll revise this match, take the positives out of it and try and get better as quickly as possible.”