MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Amid the time-worn cliches of “learning curves” and “wake-up calls” murmured by Australia’s downcast players in the wake of their dismal 1-0 loss to Qatar, it took stalwart midfielder Mark Bresciano to cut to the heart of the matter.
“There’s something not right (and) we’ve got to fix it because it is getting close,” the 34-year-old told reporters after Tuesday’s defeat in Doha triggered alarm bells Down Under.
Bresciano was referring to the Asian Cup, which Australia host in three months and where organisers have pinned their hopes on a successful Socceroos campaign to soak up the huge costs of staging the continental showpiece.
After completing a barren Middle Eastern tour, the Australians head off to their respective clubs and some may be grateful to return to their relative anonymity in Europe.
The few heading home to play in the country’s A-League will not be expecting to be mobbed by welcoming fans at local airports.
Following a scoreless draw with United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi on Friday, a match in which forward Tim Cahill’s absence for all but 13 minutes was keenly felt, coach Ange Postecoglou dismissed criticism as: “Heard it all before”.