San Pedro Sula (Honduras) (AFP) – Australia coach Ange Postecoglou praised the way his side dealt with hostile conditions on Friday after the Socceroos held Honduras to a 0-0 draw in their World Cup playoff clash.
Postecoglou said Australia would return to Sydney for Wednesday’s second leg in good heart following a controlled display that puts them in the box seat to qualify for next year’s finals in Russia.
The Australia coach was particularly pleased with the fact that the baying 39,000 crowd at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano were silenced for long periods while his players dealt with a poor pitch and hot, humid conditions.
“We silenced the crowd a fair bit because of the way we played,” Postecoglou said. “I thought the players handled it really well.
“When you play away from home you understand the challenges you have — the conditions, the pitch, the crowd.
“The fact that we created opportunities and stopped the opposition — well as a coach that’s what you’re looking for in an away performance.”
The only downside for Australia was the fact that striker Tomi Juric was unable to convert two good chances that came his way in each half.
“We had some good opportunities but didn’t take them,” Postecoglou said.
“The only thing missing was goals and hopefully when the second leg comes around in Sydney we get those. We’re expecting a tough game in the second game and we’ll be ready.”
After suggesting that injury-stricken striker Tim Cahill was available for selection on the eve of the game, Postecoglou eventually opted to keep the talismanic record goalscorer on the bench.
The Socceroos coach said he had been reluctant to risk Cahill in challenging conditions.
“He was fine I just didn’t think the game suited him tonight,” Postecoglou said. “And looking at that pitch I didn’t want to risk him. We’ll save him for the second game.”
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