Ryan blames Socceroos' slow start on unfamiliar formation
FOOTBALL: Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan says an unfamiliar 4-4-2 formation might have been one of the reasons behind a lacklustre first-half performance in the 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Japan in Melbourne.
Coach Ange Postecoglou went for a diamond formation at Etihad Stadium with attacking midfielders Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic and Massimo Luongo appearing at times to get in each other's way, particularly in the opening 45 minutes.
For the second game running the Socceroos conceded an early goal and looked out of sorts, and were fortunate to be given a lifeline when Japan's goalscorer Genki Haraguchi brought down down Tom Juric to allow skipper Mile Jedinak to equalise from the penalty spot in an improved second half.
While Australia did get better after the break, Ryan - whose superb save from a late Yu Kobayashi header kept the score at 1-1 - conceded the players struggled early on.
"There might have been a little bit of doubt or belief in what we were doing or the game plan,” the Valencia stopper said.
"It was a strange sensation and the ambience in the team was weird. It was probably doubting our set-up a little bit and that sort of thing.
"I can't really think of anything else.
"When those doubts happen, that's when things don't flow so well.
"But we got the kick up the arse we deserved at half-time.
"We were the better team in the second half, got the goal, but unfortunately just couldn't go on and find the winner.”
The Socceroos slipped to second in the group behind Saudi Arabia, which defeated the United Arab Emirates 3-0.
Postecoglou's team next travels to bottom-placed Thailand, which lost 4-0 to Iraq in Iran, on November 15 looking for a win.
The coach will be hoping Japan can get a positive result in Jeddah against the Saudis on the same night.