Good signs: Socceroos midfielder Tommy Oar said his side performed well in their 1-0 loss to Croatia. Photo: Getty Images
Socceroos attacking midfielder Tommy Oar says there is plenty to be positive about despite Australia falling to a 1-0 defeat against Croatia in Salvador.
In a game that probably lacked the intensity of what the Socceroos can expect in their World Cup campaign, which begins next week against Chile, Australia looked competent in possession without ever threatening.
Only a momentary lapse of concentration in the second-half allowed Hull City striker Nikica Jelavic to poke home the winner, allowing Croatia to go into their first match – against Brazil in the tournament’s opening game in Sao Paolo – on a winning note.
However, Oar does not believe the result is too detrimental to Australia’s cause, saying it was more important to carry out coach Ange Postecoglou’s tactical instructions.
"Of course it’s a disappointing result but we’re not really too worried about it," he said after the game. "It was all about trying to implement Ange’s style. I think we’re definitely improving with every game and there’s plenty to be upbeat about going into the first game against Chile after this week where we can refine a few things.
"It was a tough game, disappointing to lose but I think there was plenty of positives to take and a little we can learn this week going into the first game."
The 22-year old winger believed Australia looked solid in the opening 45 minutes and held their own against a side many believe will at least make the second round.
"With every game you can see the improvement and let’s not forget that Croatia is definitely world-class opposition as well," he said.
"In the first half, they didn’t really dictate the game and we really put them under a lot of pressure and if we had a little bit better final ball, or a little bit of a killer edge, we really could have gone into the break with the lead."
Oar was trialled in a new position for the national team, playing as the central attacking midfielder until Mark Bresciano entered in the second half.
"I think [Croatia] made it quite difficult for me," he said. "There was not much space to work with, so I just tried to move as much and create more space for my teammates but I guess I’m still learning a lot in that role and I enjoy playing there."
Defender Ivan Franjic was feeling similarly positive about what had unfolded at the Pituacu Stadium despite the defeat.
"It was good to play against Croatia and while it wasn’t the result that we wanted, it’s a step forward in the right direction and we’re looking forward to playing Chile next week," he said.
"It’s a disappointing result but we showed today we’re not going to take a step backwards, we’re only going to take steps forward and we’re going to attack teams, not just sit back and defend."
The testing conditions in Salvador left players on both sides drained but Franjic said the humidity would prove helpful.
"Obviously with the conditions, they were tough, and now our fitness will have gone to another level," he said. "I also think structurally and tactically we were set up well. We got a lot out of this game."
Franjic, who has Croatian parentage, appeared to draw the ire of their players when he tackled Danijel Pranjic, leading the left-back to be substituted with a potential injury.
However, Franjic said he was confident there was nothing amiss about the challenge.
"They weren’t at all [happy] when I got Pranjic, but I had no intention at all of getting him but I went and spoke to the coach after the game," he said. "They’re good guys and credit to them for getting the win. There was a slice of luck about their goal but they’re a great team, and technically and tactically they were set up well."