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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 6, 2011

Socceroos have work to do: Neill

Captain Lucas Neill believes the Socceroos are still well placed for their assault on the Asian Cup, but he concedes the scoreless draw with UAE has left them with plenty of work to do.

A largely experimental Australian side could not break down the stubborn hosts in their friendly match at Al Ain on Wednesday night, as coach Holger Osieck took the chance to give a host of fringe players some valuable game time.

With stars such as Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton, Mark Schwarzer and Jason Culina all rested, the Socceroos were always likely to find it difficult to gel after only three days in camp.

But Neill, who turned in a typically sound defensive performance alongside Sasa Ognenovski at the back, expected more against their 105th-ranked opponents.

"It could have been better but the positives are that there's no injuries, we got some game time and got rid of some cobwebs," Neill said.

"We looked good in the first 30 minutes, but we probably fatigued and it's disappointing we kept giving the ball away.

"We should be winning games like that when we're at our best, but we can be happy with a clean sheet. There's a lot to work on but overall, we stay positive."

Osieck was also upbeat, saying he was delighted with the effort of those he gave chances to.

The German handed starts to Nathan Burns and Matt McKay, while Robbie Kruse and goalkeeper Nathan Coe earned their first caps as second-half substitutes.

Tommy Oar and Neil Kilkenny also saw game time and, while none set the world on fire, Osieck claimed his inexperienced players had taken their opportunities well.

With a first-choice backline doing a sound job, Osieck conceded Australia's prime concerns heading to Qatar were in attack.

Scott McDonald was charged with leading the line, with Brett Holman playing just behind but the Middlesbrough striker again had no joy in front of goal, taking him to 21 appearances and no goals.

Australia's best chances fell to the impressive McKay, with Osieck saying the side had some way to go to sharpen things up.

"Of course, I was not too happy with the finishing but I can see in training that we're still working on our shape and build-up play ... that is what we have to do in the next couple of training sessions," Osieck said.

"That was not ideal so far but we cannot start to build the house from the roof, we have to structure it and from that point of view I thought it was quite OK."

Australia will fly to Qatar on Thursday to finalise preparations ahead of their opening match of the tournament against rank outsiders India on Tuesday morning in Doha and Neill warned his side could not afford even the slightest trace of complacency.

"Everyone expects us to win, we should win, but games never work out like that so we've got to be very professional, make sure we approach it right," he said.

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