‘We haven’t crossed finish line’: Osieck

Socceroos captain Lucas Neill and coach Holger Osieck. Photo: Penny StephensSocceroo boss Holger Osieck allowed himself a smile of celebration after his team’s 4-0 mauling of Jordan, but then warned the Australian public and his players that there can be no room for complacency until the job of World Cup qualification is completed next week, when the Socceroos entertain Iraq in Sydney.

The German was pleased with his team’s performance. It would have been a hard taskmaster indeed who would not have been delighted with such a victory, but he is anxious to ensure that heads don’t swell and that feet are kept on the ground.

Nevertheless, he said, it was a ”wonderful boost for the team’s confidence” following a strong performance in Japan, and it should go into the final match against Iraq knowing that it has what is needed to get the win it needs to book a seat on the plane to Brazil.

But he knows that the storyline does not always go according to the script. If Iraq wins overnight against Japan, it too will come to Australia knowing that a win could take it to Brazil as well.

”Iraq is a team with some very good elements. They have some very good individuals. If they beat Japan they still have a chance to qualify, so its going to be a tough call next Tuesday, its not a piece of cake.”

Osieck was particularly keen to play down the wonderful contribution of German-based striker Robbie Kruse, the ex Melbourne Victory forward who, along with Mark Bresciano, dominated what was a very good night for Australia.

Kruse created the first two goals and scored the third himself, but Osieck was mindful of the need to keep the youngster focussed on the task at hand.

”You probably saw me talking to him at the sideline. There were some elements of his game that I didn’t like. He knows how I assess his performance. I don’t want to go into details, but a game is not just running forwards.”

The coach admitted that he and the players had felt the weight of expectation coming into this must-win game, given the difficult situation the Socceroos found themselves in.

”We all were in a pressure sitatuion. We knew we couldn’t afford any slip up. On the pitch you have to find your rhythm and entry into the game and it took some time. We had two clear cut chances (even before Bresciano’s 15th minute opener) which we should have finsihed off and our game would have been a lot calmer at that stage of the game.

”I am very pleased and it was an excellent performance, but it wasn’t the best while I have been coach. But it was a great team effort. I think our team showed great unity and the score was definitely what we needed in that form. A good margin, a good clean sheet compared to some of the other results. it will definitely give a lot of confidence for the last game against Iraq. We made a big step forward, but we haven’t crossed the finish line.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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