The Socceroos fought back after losing a man and going a goal down against rivals Japan, winning the admiration of their coach in the process
Australia coach Holger Osieck has praised his men for overcoming a series of adversities to recover a 1-1 draw with Japan in their AFC World Cup qualifier at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday.
The Socceroos were reduced to 10 men in the 55th minute when Mark Milligan was controversially shown his second yellow card, and then looked dead and buried when Atsudo Uchida put the visitors ahead 1-0 ten minutes later.
But the Socceroos held on to take a point after Luke Wilkshire buried a penalty in the 70th minute.
Osieck, who has been at the charge of the Socceroos for almost two years now, could not hide his pride post-match.
"What our team delivered tonight was unbelievable," Osieck said.
"It's hard to describe how they did that, how they managed to fight their way through adversity."
Japan went into the match as favourites to take three points but were met by a combative Australia outfit, which used its strength and physicality to steal the early ascendency.
Osieck said the performance would make future opponents of the Socceroos take notice.
"Before the match we knew that both teams had respect for each other and we demonstrated very clearly that we can do the job with this group," he said.
"We sent a message not only to Japan but to the other teams as well."
Whatever plan Osieck had devised for the match was thrown into chaos when creative midfielder Mark Bresciano was forced from the field with a hip injury in the 13th minute.
When his replacement Milligan was dismissed, Osieck thought the game was gone.
"The early substitution had a negative impact and limited the opportunity to make attacking and tactical changes in the second half," he said.
"One man less was another blow as the Japanese midfielders moved the ball well and really tested our resistance.
"We are very happy that our fighting spirit was rewarded."
Osieck was damning in his assessment of referee Khalil Al Ghamdi’s decision to show Milligan his second yellow for entering a challenge with a high foot that appeared to clip the back of a diving Uchida.
"I was of the opinion at the moment it happened that it was definitely not a foul and I got confirmation when I saw the replay," he said.
"Milligan tried to kick the ball and he couldn’t see [Uchida] coming from the back, it was definitely no foul because he didn’t touch Uchida at all.
"I don’t know about the referee’s position but from my position it didn’t look like dangerous play."
Osieck said he was impressed with the way that Tim Cahill and Alex Brosque worked together up-front for the Socceroos.
"They were a very efficient pair up-front, in particular Alex, what he brought to the team was exceptional," he said.
"It was the first time they played together - down the road, I am happy to have another alternative for the position up front."