Socceroo boss Ange Postecoglou is adamant that the progression and continued development of his young Australian side is more important than a pressure-relieving win as they prepare to face Saudi Arabia tomorrow morning (AEST).
The Socceroos are coming off a 2-0 loss to Belgium and have not secured a win over international opposition for nearly a year, when they beat Costa Rica 1-0 in Sydney in November.
With the Asian Cup just four months away, Postecoglou believes progress is what is most vital at this point.
“We need to keep pushing on in terms of development of this team and the development of players within the team,” Postecoglou said.
“If we win tomorrow night but we don’t win playing the game we want, it’s not going to make me any happier.
“From my perspective it’s still about progress.
“Obviously there’s a lot of focus on results at the moment because we’ve lost a few in a row and from my perspective it’ be great for the players to get a reward for the progress they’ve made, which I know they’ve made.
“But for me it’s still ultimately about improvement in performance and that’s what we’ll be looking at tomorrow night.
“It’ll be a different challenge tomorrow night and it’s going to be a difficult challenge for us.
“We want to see progress in the implementation of our style of game and philosophy and just exposing more of our players to international minutes.
“We’re slowing getting to the stage where we’re getting a few of the boys to double figures in terms of caps and getting a little bit more experience into them.
“So far I know the results – and people will say they don’t show it – but from my perspective none of those (young) players we’ve put in have let us down. If anything, I get encouraged every time we throw one in.”
The Socceroos are currently ranked 79th in the world, four places ahead of Saudi Arabia.
Postecoglou is not expecting the Saudis to sit back at Craven Cottage, the first match between the two countries since Australia secured a 4-2 in Melbourne in 2012.
“We’ve analysed them pretty closely and I think they’ve changed the way they play as well,” he said.
“They’re fairly aggressive in their pressing and the way they want to play down at the opposition.
“We’ve watched their last few games and I expect it, particularly early on, to be fairly high-tempo, fairly intense.
“I think they’ll try and change the way they play so it’ll be a good challenge for us. They have the individuals to hurt you. We can’t afford to start slowly.”
Postecoglou wants his team to show more composure and make some better decisions in final third.