Holger Osieck was left to rue missed opportunities after Australia fell to Japan’s extra-time goal in the final of the Asian Cup.
The Socceroos enjoyed plenty of chances over the course of 120 minutes at Doha’s Khalifa Stadium, but were unable to breach Japan’s defence.
A technically accomplished volley from Tadinari Lee in the second half of extra time proved the difference, and Australia’s German coach could only watch on helpless after his players failed to find the net.
“We had our opportunities and what is always encouraging is the way we play and we create opportunities,” Osieck said.
“However, it is crucial to convert them and later on in the game it backfired and that is a problem. We had to be more clinical in our finishing and it’s not enough to win a game if you don’t score.”
“I’m very proud of my players, their performance and their attitude. I give them credit and really feel sorry for the boys that they didn’t get the reward for their efforts.”
“You can imagine in our dressing room it’s not a great atmosphere, everybody’s really sad.”
“All in all, our team represented Australia in a great way.”
Sanfrecce Hiroshima forward Lee found himself unmarked inside the box to strike the late winner, but Osieck refused to point fingers after the lapse.
“It was late into extra time and there was fatigue and it was probably the only positional mistake that we made,” he said.
“It was a very costly one and I don’t want to blame anyone. It was definitely not our regular defensive positioning but to have a go at any of the players is inappropriate.”
“We had six games in an intense tournament and twice we had to go into extra time so if there was no fatigue, then the players must be robots.”
Australia captain Lucas Neil echoed the thoughts of his coach after seeing the team’s efforts undone by a single, costly error.
“We didn’t punish Japan when we had the half-chances and then one lapse in concentration punished us,” Neil said.
“It was probably due to fatigue in extra time but at this level it’s probably only going to take one mistake to win or lose the game.”