Real test to come for Socceroos

IT WASN’T pretty but the Socceroos’ 1-0 win over Bahrain puts them within two wins of the World Cup, according to former Australian player, Craig Foster.

“Essentially, I think we’re two games away,” the former Kadina High student said.
“If they win two from their remaining five, we’ll be there.”

The Socceroos’ stoppage-time win in Manama early yesterday morning puts Australia at the top of Group A with a maximum of nine points, two clear of Japan and five ahead of Qatar in third.

The top two countries from each group win automatic entry and with the return bouts against minnows Qatar and Bahrain still ahead, the Socceroos look to be cruising towards South Africa.

“At the moment they’re cruising as far as results go, but not in their game,” said Foster.

The SBS soccer commentator was less than impressed with Australia’s latest performance.

“It was the worst performance by a national team for a long, long time,” Foster said.

“The positive is they took three points, which we’re all ecstatic about.

“However, how they did it is utterly beyond me. Bahrain utterly out-played us.

“They were extremely lucky to get out of Manama even with a point – that would’ve been a good return from an ordinary night’s work.”

Captain Lucas Neill described it as an embarrassing win. Coach Pim Verbeek called it ‘the worst performance since I am in Australia’.

Which leaves the Socceroos with plenty of improving to do ahead of February’s away clash with Japan.

“The real test is now going to be the next game away against Japan,” Foster said.

“That’s the real test in the football sense ... that’s going to be the sternest test.

“But the beauty of the lucky win (over Bahrain) is it takes the pressure off that match. They are no longer chasing points against the other top teams.”

The win improves Verbeek’s already impressive record at the helm of the national team.
“One thing you could say is he’s getting results when needed and they are now in a tremendous position to qualify for the World Cup,” Foster said.

“But it hasn’t been fantastic football to watch. It’s not for the football purist but he’s getting results which is his job.

“Putting performance aside, the result is fantastic. Nine points after three games is really exceptional.”

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