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Dec 5, 2012

Socceroos have it all to do in Hong Kong

Holger Osieck's inexperienced Socceroos must chase goals in big numbers at the East Asia Cup qualifying tournament after being held to a 1-1 draw by main rival North Korea.

The Koreans had already posted two comprehensive wins - 6-1 over Taiwan and 5-0 over Guam - before meeting the Socceroos in the tournament's marquee match at Hong Kong Stadium on Wednesday night (Thursday AEDT).

The Socceroos must attempt to better North Korea's vastly-superior goal difference in their final two matches against Guam and Taiwan, as they chase the one available spot in next year's showpiece against South Korea, Japan and China.

And they'll be hoping Hong Kong put up as big a fight as they did in their 1-0 loss to Australia when they meet the Koreans on Sunday.

In a squad full of tyros, the Socceroos needed another veteran to put them in front against North Korea, with Archie Thompson scoring in the fifth minute following on from Brett Emerton's late match-winner against the host nation on Monday.

But the well-organised Koreans levelled in the second half through J-League star An Yong Hak.

"Obviously, it's not the result we wanted," Socceroos midfielder Mark Milligan said.

"It was the big match for us, so obviously it's very disappointing to concede.

"We were hoping for the three points and now it leaves it all ahead of us in the last two matches.

"Not only do we have to get a result but we have to score some goals as well."

Impressive young Central Coast goalkeeper Mathew Ryan earned his maiden cap against North Korea in place of Eugene Galekovic.

Of the eight newcomers in the squad, Aaron Mooy, Dino Djulbic and Michael Marrone are yet to come off the bench and coach Holger Osieck plans to give them game time in the next two matches, with fellow youngsters Terry Antonis and Eli Babalj also expected to feature.

Central Coast's teen playmaker Tomas Rogic was brought on as a 65th-minute substitute and again impressed, quickly creating chances and attempting a couple of strikes himself.

Despite the match being only Rogic's third time in a Socceroo jersey, Osieck clearly has a high opinion of the 19-year-old.

"But the youngest player who is already in an advanced position (Rogic) played tonight. He came on earlier (than against Hong Kong).

"He did what I expected of him. I know what he can do. I know his qualities and I ask him to just put all of those qualities into our game and that is what he did.

"Whatever he does makes sense. It's quality."

He added: "It is definitely the situation that the young boys who haven't played until now will get the opportunity."

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