Wigan Athletic
Bristol City
6:45 PM UTC
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Australia to rebound from Japan loss to qualify for World Cup - Milligan

Australia's Jackson Irvine credits Japan's game plan and still feels Australia can qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

TOKYO -- Mark Milligan is adamant the Australia can bounce back from the disappointment of their 2-0 loss to Japan in AFC World Cup qualifying on Thursday night, insisting that the Socceroos did not underestimate their opponents in the lead up.

"No, definitely not", Milligan told ESPN FC after wearing the captain's armband in the absence of Mile Jedinak.

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"You don't underestimate anyone and we won't underestimate Thailand on Tuesday night. We definitely did our homework. Maybe we didn't execute it as well as we would have liked."

What went wrong for the Australians in front of the vocal crowd of more than 59,000 at Saitama Stadium is still to be determined, but Milligan, and coach Ange Postecoglou, are ready to take a deeper look.

"It is a little hard to pinpoint ... it's a little disappointing to fall short on such an important night for us", Milligan said.

"We'll need to have a look at it, see what went wrong and fix it up because we have a massive game in a few days. We'll move forward. We'll make sure that we take the good with the bad and always learn but we need to do it pretty quickly."

The task of having to secure a big victory over Thailand, and then to watch on television as fellow Group B contenders Saudi Arabia play their final qualifying match against Japan just hours later, adds to the pressure on a team who were required to absorb plenty from the Samurai Blue. Has the task of qualifying for Russia 2018 become, in reality, insurmountable?

"I don't think so," Milligan said. "We can just go and make sure that we win. The rest will take care of itself, I guess. You can't change what has happened. We just need to make sure that we go out on Tuesday night and put in a good performance and see where that lands us."

Australia coach Ange Postecoglou v Japan
Coach Ange Postecoglou stuck to a tried and tested formula against Japan in Saitama, without success

Postecoglou, meanwhile, gave away little about his thoughts on the result, but he hinted that a decision to maintain his pre-game plans, rather than reverting to a Plan B could have been a factor.

The coach's decision not to play Milligan in Jedinak's midfield position, instead favouring a defensive role, had little impact on the Melbourne Victory returnee's opinion of his own performance.

"I do as I'm told," Milligan said. "That was my job. I do what is required of me so I try to the best of my ability to help my team as much as possible."

For now, the soul searching begins and the 10-hour flight from Tokyo to Melbourne gives the Australian national team plenty of time to do that. Milligan insists the Socceroos are up to the challenge.

"You [have to] regroup the boys. Of course there's the disappointment now but we need to stick together. We need to be strong and it needs a strong character to bounce back."


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