A trademark Tim Cahill goal was not enough for Australia as they were defeated 2-1 by rivals Japan in Osaka last night.
The scores were level at half-time before two goals in the space of seven minutes from Yasuyuki Konno and Shinji Okazaki gave the Blue Samurai a 2-0 lead. The defeat was Australia’s eighth of the year raising big questions over their chances at the upcoming Asian Cup.
Custodian Mathew Ryan was kept busy throughout the match keeping Australia in the game. Konno replaced Japanese legend Yasuhito Endo at half time and immediately made an impact. Konno gloated behind the Australian defence from a Keisuke Honda free kick, heading in at the back post.
Okazaki produced a cheeky backheel to beat Trent Sainsbury and Mat Ryan to increase the lead for the current Asian Champions.
Tim Cahill, who scored his 36th goal for the national team from an Aziz Behich cross, urged fans to stay positive ahead of the Asian Cup following the loss.
“I’m proud of the boys because we’ve been asked a lot of questions about our football and whether we can stand up to the criticism,” Cahill said.
“Australia just has to believe in what we’re trying to do. At home, in Melbourne, Sydney we’ll have 40,000, everyone will be cheering us on and it will be a different story.”
Ange Postecoglou has only won two matches in his tenure but has used over 40 different players thus far.
The match was Australia’s last before the tournament, who remain one of the favourites to take out the title despite being ranked 94th in the world. – Chris Matthews-Darby