Ange Postecoglou knows the Socceroos still have a lot of work to do to become the finished article but believes his rebuilding side is making progress.
Australia started brightly against Saudi Arabia at Craven Cottage, racing to a quick 2-0 lead, but gave away two soft goals in the second half to record a tight 3-2 win after a nervous finish.
Postecoglou said the Socceroos are starting to build proper squad depth which is important.
“We’re still making progress,” he said.
“I said before these two games we want to widen the pool a little bit because I still feel we’re pretty shallow in areas and guys like, particularly Massimo Luongo and even Chrissy Herd, Trent Sainsbury, they’ve all put cases forward now to be part of it.
“Josh Brillante was outstanding tonight, especially in that first half. So when it comes down to the next squad and hopefully we get guys like Matty Spiranovic and Ivan Franjic back, Matt McKay, all these kinds of guys back on board and all of a sudden we’ve got some real depth.
“So from that perspective I’m happy with what the overall objective is but we still have a lot of work to do. I know exactly where we’re at and what we need to do to get better.”
Postecoglou lamented the Socceroos’ bad luck, particularly defensively, which saw Alex Wilkinson forced off with injury after just four minutes with Trent Sainsbury replacing him.
Curtis Good and Rhys Williams are still out with injuries while Matt Spiranovic and Ivan Franjic are both also currently on the sidelines.
“The back four we had at the end there was a pretty young and in-experienced back four,” he said.
“I’m sure being exposed to that kind of pressure would have helped their learning process.
“Bailey Wright did well. I thought first half in particular he… I mean we can’t take a trick at the moment. We were supposed to play him next to an experienced guy, well semi-experienced guy and we lost Wilko after two minutes.
“We had to pair him up with Trent and Trent’s had all of one game. So we’re facing some enormous challenges so bearing that in mind, his first half was really good.
“Second half I thought we were really stretched. The back four really struggled to cope but that wasn’t isolated to just the back four, the whole team got stretched.
“But that’s his first 90 minutes of international football, I’m sure he’ll learn from it. It’s just that we can’t get settled.
Postecoglou added: “Wilko was the one who played every game and we lose him after two minutes.
“But as I said, Sainsbury’s now had two international games, Bailey Wright’s got a game under his belt.
“We bring back Spirnaovic and Wilkinson and there’s a couple more like Curtis Good, Rhys Williams as well. I think once we get everyone on board we’ll be OK.
“I’m sure there were people swearing at their TVs for us to kick it into row Z when it’s 3-2 and waste time but that will come when the important games come. Right now it’s about teaching these young guys about how we want to play.
“I was really happy that they just kept persisting and it meant for some hairy moments, but that’s how you learn… I was disappointed we didn’t control it a little bit better and weren’t a little more composed but again we’ll analyse that and see why we did that.”
The result over Saudi Arabia ended a seven-game winless run for the Socceroos and was their first victory since the 1-0 defeat of Costa Rica.
Postecoglou said he didn’t care about ending the streak or critics who had declared the Saudi Arabia match as a “must-win” game.
“I really don’t care,” he said.
“Again it’s great for the players, I’m rapt for the players because that’s how they get they’re rewards out of the game but for me what people say, whether they’re ex-Socceroos, everyone is entitled to an opinion.
“I’ve got no problem with that.
“People are allowed to give their opinion on how they think we’re going and how I’m doing - I’ve got no issue with that.
“I’ve never had any issue with that. I’ve certainly copped enough in my career to be able to handle it, just as long as they stand by their opinion when the story unfolds.”