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Ambitious Socceroos hailed by the best

  • *Chile coach Pizzi said match was the “level of a World Cup quarter-final” *
  • *Australia set high future ambitions *
  • Australian players say they have taken confidence from Confederations Cup

By Pete Smith with Australia

“This match was more or less the same level as you would see in the quarter-final of the World Cup.” So said Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi after his side’s intensely-fought 1-1 draw against Australia, adding that the match was tougher than *La Roja’s *contest against world champions Germany.

Pizzi knows a thing or two about high-level football, having led his side to victory at the Copa America Centenario and throughout much of *La Roja’s *ongoing South American FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign. Last week Australia also earned high praise from German World Cup-winning coach Joachim Low who said the Socceroos “play really good combination football” and “boldly attack the big teams of world football”.

The result means Australia exit the FIFA Confederations Cup at the group-stage, following a 1-1 draw against Cameroon and a 3-2 defeat against Germany.

Australia coach Ange Postecoglou’s visible frustration at full-time provides a small insight into a heightened ambition for football Down Under. “We didn’t get through the group, and that was our objective, so I’m disappointed,” said Postecoglou. “It’s a missed opportunity.

“They [Chile] are a world class team, and have played some of the best teams in the world off the park.

“I am setting the highest possible benchmarks, and I think you have to if you want to compete at the highest possible level.

“I have enormous respect for Chile. We have seen them grow over the past four or five years and not take a backward step against anyone. I think there is something in that for us, and I think we can be a similar type of team.”

Australia’s attention now refocuses on a 2018 World Cup campaign which has been shaky at times, even if they remain undefeated. Japan and Saudi Arabia are part of a three-way charge for two automatic qualifying spots when the action resumes in late August with an epic match-up in Saitama between the Socceroos and Samurai Blue.

Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic jetted into Moscow for the match, and he will return home with plenty of food for thought. Australia’s players, meanwhile, said they have benefited greatly from their Confederations Cup experience.

“The players were just talking about it in the sheds [dressing rooms], it has been extremely good for us,” said full-back Mark Milligan. “We have grown enormously. We will take a lot of confidence out of this into our next two qualifiers – Japan in Japan [and Thailand at home] – and we will finish this World Cup campaign strongly.”

Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan was equally upbeat about the growth in the team over the past fortnight. “As a team we take a lot from this game,” he said. “In recent years Chile have been one of the benchmarks in world football. I think today we earned a lot of respect.

“If we can take this form into the next two World Cup qualifiers, we will be coming back to Russia next year.”

EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team
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