The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
World Cup-bound Australia held to a 1-1 draw by understrength South Africa in friendly
SYDNEY - Australia was held to a 1-1 draw by an understrength South Africa on Monday in its last international friendly on home soil before the World Cup.
More than 50,000 spectators were at Sydney's Olympic stadium expecting to send the Socceroos off with what should have been a straightforward win. Instead, it was Ayanda Patosi who opened the scoring for South Africa against the run of play in the 13th minute.
New York Red Bulls star Tim Cahill scored the equalizer a minute later, extending his record as Australia's all-time leading international scorer to 32 goals, when he nodded in Tommy Oar's well-placed cross. But it was one of the rare highlights in an Australian performance that was more notable for the problems in its inexperienced defence.
"It's always great to score, but there were also some good points to the game and a chance to fix some things," said Cahill, who was filling in as captain for Mile Jedinak and playing as a lone striker.
The Australians had other scoring chances, with Oar creating opportunities in the middle, but failed to convert.
"There were some glimpses of some great stuff. We did a lot of things we were supposed to and we'll probably work on the things we didn't do," Cahill said. "They had one attack and they scored. We got the momentum back, we got the goal and stayed true to ourselves. Overall, it could have been a lot better result."
Australia is a long shot to collect any points in Brazil, where it opens against Chile and also faces defending champion Spain and 2010 finalist Netherlands in Group B.
Defender Ivan Franjic limped off with a right knee injury but later said it was just bruising.
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou is set to cut three players from his 30-man squad on Tuesday and finalize his 23 for the World Cup by June 2.
Cahill, who is preparing for his third World Cup, said he was "buzzing" ahead of Brazil.
"It's three weeks until the first game at the World Cup. It's the first time a lot of us have actually played competitively together," he said. "I thought we were very brave and we made some mistakes here and there. But overall we've got to be ready to play the bigger teams."
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