A snap meeting led by captain Lucas Neill and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in the bowels of the King Abdullah stadium in Amman after last month’s loss to Jordan has provided Australia with the motivation to re-ignite its FIFA World Cup qualification campaign.
Forward Alex Brosque said the two senior members of the squad delivered the “wake-up call that we needed”.
“Straight after the match Lucas and Schwarzy told the boys just how hard it used to be to qualify for World Cups and not to let this chance slip,” Brosque said.
“We’ve been given a good opportunity now to qualify through Asia and they spoke of not thinking it’s an easy step into the World Cup.”
“It was a good wake-up call for everybody. Those guys are the leaders in the team and everybody respects what they say.
“They made it clear to everyone that what we delivered in that game wasn’t acceptable, and I think everybody’s taken that on board and it’s good to see because, realistically, we can’t afford to slip up again and have another result like that.”
Brosque says that he’s noticed a new intensity in training since the side gathered in Qatar ahead of next Tuesday’s crunch qualifier with Iraq.
“We have to prepare properly, we have to focus on making sure that we turn up every single game we play and I think in the last couple of games - for whatever reason - that hasn’t happened.”
“It’s good to see the intensity back in at a level I haven’t seen before and the boys really fighting and pushing each other and making sure we don’t slip up again.”
The 28 year old has become a key member of Holger Osieck’s squad and, after completing a surprise move from J.League side Shimizu S-Pulse to UAE Pro-League outfit Al Ain, he has hit the ground running at his new home.
In the absence of regular front-man Asamoah Gyan, Brosque played as a lone striker in Al Ain’s 4-1 Etisalat Cup victory at Dubai CSC on Tuesday, bagging a hat-trick to make it four goals in two matches since making the switch.
“In terms of settling in and starting well I couldn’t have asked for too much more,” Brosque said.
“It definitely eases a lot of pressure and helps within the team and amongst the boys to settle straight in - it’s been a good start I guess.”
Osieck has made no secret of his feelings about certain players going to leagues in the Middle East, with Brosque revealing he had sought his coach’s counsel before the move.
“I had a chat to Holger before signing to get his opinion.
“Before I went to Japan and I wasn’t really involved in the national team I guess I wouldn’t have thought about it too much.
“But now it’s important to see what the national manager thinks and where his players are playing and the moves they’re going to make.”
“What he said was in the end it’s down to me to come into camp and stay at a level where he’s happy and that if he sees that my form doesn’t drop, then he’s happy to keep me in the squad.
“From my point of view, if he sees that I’m dropping in form for whatever reason then I guess I have no issue if the decision needs to be made to drop me.
“So really it puts pressure on me to keep up my standards and that’s a positive thing.”
Italian football turns its attention to Rome on Sunday (Monday AEST) as Roma and Lazio square off in what should be a highly charged Coppa Italia final.