FOOTBALL: The Socceroos have to "take responsibility" for the way they were out-muscled in the World Cup qualifier with Iraq and nullify any future physical threat, captain Mile Jedinak has warned.
With the criticism of coach Ange Postecoglou echoing in the players' ears, Jedinak said that the success of Iraq's direct approach might prompt other teams to try a similar tactic against Australia.
The 1-1 draw means the Socceroos stay third, but are now three points behind both Saudi Arabia and Japan after the latter's 2-0 win in Abu Dhabi over the UAE.
It means Australia's home fixture with the UAE on Tuesday becomes utterly critical, and Jedinak said his side had to be ready to win every physical battle.
"We've got to take responsibility for that, and I do myself," he said.
"Especially with the way we set out, we knew that a physical test (against Iraq) would more than likely happen.
"We as a group, and me as the captain of the team, take responsibility for that. It caused us more problems than it should have done, no doubt about that.
"But in saying that we had a couple of chances, we did impose ourselves on the game at times and it wasn't entirely physical. But that was a large component, and we'll have to address it and move forward."
Jedinak said his side had to contest situations as a group, be in a position to win second balls and not allow the opposition to pick up scraps around the Australian box.
"I know there was a lot of contested ball at the back that we should have won, particularly in the first half," he said.
"It's going to be a physical game, no doubt. But when you do go up for a physical duel, it's more about where are our other bodies, where's the support, where are we tucked in. A couple of times we did let ourselves down on that.
"At times we made it easy for them to lump it. That's something we have to deal with - teams will see that and think this is the way to go. So we'll make sure that when that happens, we'll address it and work on it, use our knowledge and experience to nullify it."
What frustrated the Socceroos more than anything was that after weathering an early storm and taking the lead, they missed several excellent chances to have doubled it and make an Iraqi comeback far more unlikely.
"It needed another goal," he said.
"We had a couple of chances, and if we'd gone two goals up then Iraq might still have thrown the kitchen sink but they'd have been a lot more ragged. Wasn't meant to be, it's disappointing to concede after all that pressure, the boys are hurting but we have to move forward. It will be another tough task, but we'll be at home in Sydney."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.