Australia boss Holger Osieck hailed his team’s display in what he called a thoroughly deserved 1-0 Asian Cup quarter-final victory over Iraq.
Harry Kewell’s extra-time winner at Doha’s Al Sadd Stadium on Saturday was all that separated the sides, sending the Socceroos into the semi-finals of Asian soccer’s flagship event for the first time.
“I’m very pleased and happy with my team’s performance,” said Osieck.
“We managed to qualify for the semi-finals, which is definitely a great achievement and, looking at the game itself, although it went to extra time, during the regular 90 minutes we had more of the game.”
Osieck reserved special praise for his side’s robust defence, which he felt set the platform for a solid all-round team performance.
“We played solidly in defence, we had a good structure, we created a lot of good chances and if I’m not mistaken, Iraq only had one great opportunity, the rest came from half-chances.”
“You can learn when you make serious mistakes but our defensive shape looked solid, we created opportunities that looked good but that we didn’t finish. That was maybe not so good.”
Standing in between Australia and a place in the tournament decider are Uzbekistan, but Osieck is refusing to look beyond Tuesday’s semi-final.
“That is two steps ahead,” Osieck stressed.
“The next game with Uzbekistan is waiting, I saw them the other night, they are a very good team too, they play a different kind of football and it’s going to be a different challenge.”
“First we need to recharge our batteries then we look at the game with Uzbekistan, that is my next target and I don’t want to look further ahead than that.”
Iraq coach Wolfgang Sidka was upbeat despite the defending champions’ exit, and had nothing but words of praise for his players.
“I think we created our chances by playing football,” Sidka said, adding: “I must praise my players especially for the last 30 minutes. The condition was very good, we did everything at the end to try and win and we end up empty-handed.”
“You saw everything in this game and we’ve always played in an attacking manner, tried to create chances and we got chances in extra time. We did everything but in the end, it was one cross and one header.”
“We were disappointed to lose in the quarter-finals but the way we played I think was 100 percent okay.”