Australia leave with heads held high

NELSPRUIT - Australia can be proud of their World Cup, picking themselves up after a big loss in the opening match against Germany, coach Pim Verbeek said on Wednesday.

But ultimately that 4-0 loss cost them a place in the second round and they have only themselves to blame, he said after a exciting 2-1 victory over Serbia in Nelspruit.

"A great result today, a great performance again but not in the final 16 ... I am disappointed," he told reporters. "I am very proud of my players and the unbelievable support of the fans."

Australian supporters filled large swathes of the Mbombela stadium and most remained well after the final whistle to cheer the players.

Verbeek said the Germany match was possibly the team's only bad performance of the last 25 games and in the end it left the side too much to make up.

"Losing 4-0 (against Germany), that was not in the planning. We can only blame ourselves for this, for giving four goals away to Germany."

The Socceroos failed to make it through to the knockout round on goal difference, with Germany and Ghana topping Group D.

Australia followed up the Germany match, in which top scorer Tim Cahill was red carded, with a battling 10-man draw with Ghana and then victory over Serbia.

Wednesday's man-of-the-match Cahill, who scored Australia's first goal, said the victory was momentous for soccer in his country.

"The way we played against Ghana and tonight, it was a wonderful achievement," he said.

The memory of his sending off against Germany had faded and he now looked forward to a bright future for Australian football.

"I'm over it, mate (the red card), this is one of the proudest days of my life," he said.

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