Mile Jedinak and Ange Postecoglou have rued Australia’s first-half performance against Japan in their top-of-the-table showdown in 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying.
The Samurai Blue took an early lead through Genki Haraguchi and dominated the first half. The Socceroos equalised when, after Tomi Juric was fouled, Jedinak blasted home a penalty. Despite constant pressure thereafter, however, the hosts were unable to find a winner in Melbourne.
“A game of two halves,” Jedinak told Fox Sports. “We were trying to force things, but once we got settled into the game and were being patient, they sat back really deep and didn’t apply too much pressure.
“And at half-time we were told to have a reaction, and we regrouped and it looked like only one team winning the game. Unfortunately we couldn’t get that second goal.
“I don’t think we were sluggish. I think we got sucked into a trap – maybe it was a little naivety from our point of view. It was a mistake [for Japan's goal] and we’re going to have to rectify that. But it’s a point gained and on to the game next month.”
Postecoglou added: “We needed a response because we were that poor in the first half. A really disappointing first half. Very naive. We conceded an early goal through something we’ve spoken about endlessly. Even after that, it wasn’t the reaction I was expecting.
“We kind of wasted 45 minutes of football, where we really should be playing the game our way and testing the opposition. I’m sure there are positives, but that first goal in international football is crucial and that allowed them to sit back and make things hard for us, and especially in the first half we got frustrated and were really static.
“And regardless of that, it was up to us to break them down. And they did it very well and that was something new for us and something we need to learn from.”
The result kept Australia one point above Japan in Group B. The Samurai Blue host Saudi Arabia next month, while the Socceroos are away to Thailand.