Bayer Leverkusen's Robbie Kruse has expressed his sympathy for ousted Australia coach Holger Osieck.
But the 25-year-old has backed the Socceroos to give a good account of themselves at the FIFA World Cup.
Osieck was axed by Football Federation Australia after overseeing successive 6-0 defeats in friendlies away to Brazil and France in September and October.
Kruse made his international debut during the German coach's tenure, going on to become a first-team regular, and was sorry to see him go.
"I feel bad for Holger Osieck, he led us toward the World Cup in Brazil, and now is not in charge anymore," Kruse told the Leverkusen website.
"In previous friendlies we lost against France and Brazil 6-0 (in) each game, he had to leave afterwards. Obviously these were tough opponents he chose, he could (have chosen) easy teams as well, but he wanted to see how we would deal with that pressure. And we are facing such strong teams in the World Cup anyhow.
"We are aware we might have the toughest group with the Netherlands, Spain and Chile, no-one really expects much from us, but who knows, maybe we can cause some damage and surprise Chile in the first match."
After earning a move from Melbourne Victory to German club Fortuna Dusseldorf in 2011, Kruse made another step up when he signed for traditional Bundesliga heavyweights Bayer Leverkusen in April.
"If I look back I have to admit it was a very emotional year in my career," he said.
"Now that this year is over, I can also say that it has been one of my most successful ones.
"However it didn't start well, we played a disappointing second part of the previous campaign with Fortuna (Dusseldorf), even though the first half of it was quite good. The outcome was relegation, of which I felt sorry for the fans and club.
"For me personally it was a weird situation: On one hand I was sad about being relegated with Dusseldorf, on the other I was looking forward to my move to Leverkusen and playing Champions League. I enjoyed myself in Dusseldorf ... I'm grateful they gave me (a) chance. But then I was really looking forward to my new (move to) Leverkusen and the next step of my career."
Kruse was honoured with an individual accolade from FFA in November, and hopes his success overseas can serve as an inspiration to aspiring players back home.
"I am very proud to be Footballer of the Year in Australia," he said.
"I feel honoured, and I am proud to be an Australian. I think this award will encourage many young talented players to try their luck in Europe."comments