6 September 2014 05:11
Australia could have the positivity surrounding them take a battering if their seven-match winless run extends when they face Saudi Arabia.
A possession-based and attacking style under Ange Postecoglou has helped lift the Socceroos, who pushed Chile and the Netherlands during a winless World Cup campaign.
But results must follow, particularly ahead of hosting the 2015 Asian Cup, and a clash against Saudi Arabia in London on Monday is an opportunity to claim their first win of 2014.
The Socceroos showed promise in a 2-0 loss to Belgium on Thursday, but mistakes in possession proved costly.
Australia’s all-time leading goalscorer Tim Cahill said it was matches against the likes of Belgium which would make the Socceroos better.
“We’re only a bit away from being a great team. We showed we can play football now it’s about believing and taking it in against some of the best teams like Belgium,” he said.
“The team they put out tonight and the players they put on were exceptional. They need to play, get games under their belt and at the same time get a feel for the pace.
“[Belgium] were on the ball from the start, you saw their physical fitness of how strong and competitive they were and that’s the next level for all of us to try and compete.
“This is a great test because I’d much prefer to play in games like this than ones where we are going to be the favourites.”
Postecoglou is likely to give most of his squad a chance at Craven Cottage.
Josh Brillante, Ben Halloran, Massimo Luongo, Brad Smith, Tomi Juric and Carl Valeri are among those who came off the bench against Belgium and could get more of an opportunity.
The clash is Saudi Arabia’s first encounter since May, when they suffered losses to Moldova and Georgia.
Saudi Arabia have won just one of their five previous matches against Australia and it would be a surprise if they improved on that record.
For all the positivity surrounding the Socceroos, a win is needed to maintain confidence and continue the improvement they have shown.