Postecoglou laments damaging loss in Japan
BITTERLY disappointed Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou says he was not caught out by Japan's stifling tactics in the 2-0 World Cup qualifying loss at Saitama Stadium last night.
Postecoglou defended left winger Brad Smith's role in Japan's go-ahead goal, saying the defensive lapse was his responsibility, not the player's.
And the coach also said he was confident Aaron Mooy would be fit for Tuesday's decisive qualifier against Thailand at AAMI Park after the star midfielder missed last night's game through illness.
"We're obviously disappointed with the outcome, congratulations to the Japanese side, they deserved the win tonight," Postecoglou said.
"It wasn't far from what we expected (from them) ... but in terms of the way we played we just never got control of midfield in the way we wanted to.
"We had possession, but not real effective possession. We turned the ball over and in transition they've got the ability to hit you quickly.
"We just couldn't get a hold of that central area the way we wanted to."
Postecoglou said it was not ideal to be reliant upon Saudi Arabia's result against Japan to qualify for Russia, but said he hadn't yet given thought to the approach to the Thailand game.
Last night's match was played in the shadow of the tragic death of long-time Fairfax football journalist and Fox Sports commentator Mike Cockerill, who passed away through illness just hours before kickoff.
The team, however, was not aware of Cockerill's passing during the game, with a visibly upset Postecoglou only told of the news just before his pre-match media conference.
Mooy was ruled out yesterday morning after falling ill overnight.
Bournemouth's Smith hasn't had many minutes for his club, but the coach said he wasn't alone in that.
"Talking to the doctor, (Mooy) just wasn't well enough to perform today so we decided to leave him back at the hotel so he could recover," he said.
"Brad Smith played 90 minutes just a week ago. I'll have to have a look at the goal again, but from my opinion that's not his responsibility, it's my responsibility."