Postecoglou shrugs off Thai shock as road to Russia toughens
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Australia coach Ange Postecoglou tried to stay upbeat after the surprise 2-2 draw away to Thailand even as the road to a fourth successive World Cup became a lot tougher for the Socceroos.
Australia's timid display at Bangkok's Rajamangala National Stadium tipped them to third in Asia's Group B behind Saudi Arabia and Japan, outside the top two spots that guarantee automatic qualification.
The Socceroos could not blame preparations for their disjointed display, having arrived early for a week-long training camp ahead of the clash against the group's bottom team, who were on zero points after the four previous rounds.
But with veteran striker Tim Cahill left behind in Australia to gain match fitness at club level, Australia rarely looked like scoring outside of captain Mile Jedinak's two penalties.
Australia have notched three consecutive draws, including the disappointing 1-1 result against Japan in Melbourne last month and have four months to mull the missed opportunities before their next qualifier away to Iraq.
"We are not satisfied as we want to get maximum points from every game and we have not done that," Postecoglou said.
"From our perspective, we have had three tough away trips.
"The back half of our program is still looking very good. We can finish strongly and that is what we will try and do.
"We have to reflect on the football tonight, which wasn't up to our usual standard and we will try to rectify that but overall, we are still quite comfortable."
Socceroos keeper Mat Ryan, who made a late save to spare further blushes, was tougher on his team mates, saying they needed a serious self-assessment before Iraq, which is set to be played at a neutral venue.
"What's up for grabs is a position at the World Cup and we have to be aware that every team is willing to die in order to achieve that and we have to be better than them with that aspect," he said.
"The biggest point was carelessly giving the ball away. When we do that, it's probably only going to give ourselves problems ... (and) being lazy in taking up positions.
"I don't know if the conditions affected some of us or not but at the end of the day it's just not good enough.
"The pressure's always there when there's something important to be playing for."
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)