Frustrated Postecoglou backs 'magnificent players'

An emotional Australia coach Ange Postecoglou paid tribute to his team and said their 10-game World Cup qualifying campaign had been "magnificent" - even though the mood in the stadium after their narrow 2-1 win over Thailand was more one of exasperation than triumph.

The Socceroos went into this game knowing that to keep the pressure on Saudi Arabia they had to win - and preferably by a big margin.

They managed the former - thanks to a late goal by Mat Leckie - but in one of the most one-sided games any football fan will ever have witnessed, they simply could not convert the myriad chances that came their way.

The statistics show that Australia had more than 40 shots, with 18 on target: the Thais scrambled heroically to defend and block shots and headers from all corners of the penalty area, saving several attempts on the goal line.

Australia also hit the woodwork three times.

A clearly upset and frustrated Postecoglou hit out at the critics who have been on the back of his team as they stuttered through the campaign, pointing out that they had only lost one game - to group winners Japan last week.

"Its been unbelievable, its been magnificent and I have been sitting here frustrated for the last two years listening to some of the garbage being thrown around at these players," Postecoglou said.

"It's tough qualifying for a World Cup, it's even tougher when it's your first one for a lot of these guys. We have played 10 games, lost only one, they have done everything I have asked of them. I am the one putting them out there trying to win games of football."

Postecoglou said he had never been involved in a more lopsided game in a lifetime in football.

"Its heartbreaking for the players. They were brilliant tonight. They had forty plus shots and chances just didn't go in. If we had got one a bit earlier it may have opened them up a bit.

"The players didn't get their rewards for a brilliant performance.

"The players really stuck at it, they didn't get frustrated, they were continuing to create chances, we have hit the post three times, a couple cleared off the line. It's a game of inches.

"As the game wore on anxiety crept in, we had to take a couple more risks. They could have become deflated at each other, but they showed character and resilience to stay in the game.

"Thailand were resilient, defended desperately but okay, 45 shots, three posts, cleared off the line, if there was a more one-sided contest I don't think I have seen it. Usually when the evidence is overwhelming you get the rewards.

"All you need is 10 per cent to go in and you are talking about a different game."

The story Frustrated Postecoglou backs 'magnificent players' first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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