Australia veteran Mark Bresciano believes Japan is not only the top gun of Asia but that the Socceroos won't be catching it any time soon.
The former Serie A midfielder painted a bleak picture of Australia's standing in the region before Tuesday afternoon's (Wednesday morning AEDT) 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Iraq in Doha.
The world No.34 Socceroos have slipped to third in the rankings for Asian teams behind Japan (23) and Korea Republic (25).
And Bresciano suggested Australia might be bowing down to Japan for some time.
"I just think it will be very difficult to overtake Japan in international football," he said.
"They've got a bigger population, I think their set up is more suitable for football, even at the grassroots, and with the standards of coaching there.
"I think it will be very difficult."
Reigning Asian Cup champion Japan reinforced its rising status last week by defeating France 1-0 in Paris.
Bresciano, a central figure in Australia's 2006 and 2010 World Cup campaigns, expressed his fears about the development of the next generation of Socceroos.
The skilful midfielder, who had been living out of the country for more than a decade, welcomed Football Federation Australia's decision to appoint Socceroos' great Craig Moore as a mentor for young overseas players.
"I think it's very clear that the standard of our youth isn't what it used to be," Bresciano said.
"I'm not sure if it comes down to the coaching we have, whether we have to consider working on the coaches or getting better coaches for our youth.
"They say Australia's kids all want to play football so it can't be the numbers ... I think we've got more numbers playing the game (than) back when we were growing up.
"So it could be the coaching - it could be that some players get badly advised, particularly with their career.
"A lot of players make early moves when it's probably wrong or go to different countries where they won't improve their football."
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