Individual Winners and Losers from Australia vs. South Africa
The Socceroos played out a 1-1 friendly international draw with South Africa in Sydney on Monday night in what was their last match in Australia before departing for Brazil.
The result, against an understrength Bafana Bafana, will have been a disappointment to many in the 50,000-plus crowd, though manager Ange Postecoglou would have learnt plenty from the game.
Tim Cahill netted Australia's goal with a trademark towering header, shortly after Ayanda Patosi had given the South Africans a shock lead, but there was never any doubt about the New York Red Bull man's place in the starting XI for the World Cup.
Other individual performances will have caught Postecoglou's eye, however, bearing in mind that likely starters such as Mark Bresciano, Mile Jedinak and Matthew Spiranovic did not take part.
Here are some of the individual winners and losers for Australia from this game.
Winner: Tommy Oar
Zippy forward Tommy Oar was heavily involved in the majority of the chances Australia created.
Based on this evidence, he will be the player most capable of providing an attacking spark for the Socceroos in Brazil.
The FC Utrecht man was his usual dangerous self down the flanks, but he also moved inside and created problems for South Africa through the middle with his jinking runs and neat short passes.
He needs to work on his crosses into the box and his finishing, but he is a potential star for Australia at the World Cup.
Loser: Ivan Franjic
In what was an extremely troubling turn of events for Postecoglou, right-back Ivan Franjic limped off in the 54th minute after suffering a knock to his right knee.
Up to that point, he had been typically reliable on the right side of defence, and considering the dearth of options at the manager's disposal in the full-back positions, the extent of the injury will be a major talking point in the coming days.
Winner: Mark Milligan
Though he did not play a flawless game, Mark Milligan showed his usual presence in midfield, where he offers an element of steel to the Australian side.
He also showed against the Bafana Bafana that he is capable of playing slightly further forward than his usual deep-lying role, and Postecoglou will be well aware of his abilities as a central defender as well.
When Tim Cahill left the field, Milligan was handed the captain's armband, which is another indicator of his status in the team.
Losers: Ryan McGowan and Alex Wilkinson
With a host of injuries to centre-backs, the middle of Australia's defence now has a slapped-together feel about it.
It is harsh to criticise Ryan McGowan and Alex Wilkinson for their lack of cohesion, as they have never played together in a competitive match before, but their collective display will not instill a great deal of confidence in Socceroos fans' minds.
At best they looked reasonably comfortable, but that probably had more to do with South Africa's lack of potency up front.
At worst they appeared unsure of which movements to make, and they were caught flat-footed and out of position on too many occasions.
Both made errors of judgement in the lead-up to South Africa's goal.
Curtis Good has now been ruled out of the World Cup with injury, but Matthew Spiranovic is expected to recover fully in time for the tournament, and will most likely start.
That leaves one starting spot in the centre of defence vacant.
On Monday night's evidence, Postecoglou has work to do.
Winner: Ben Halloran
He may have only spent just over half an hour on the pitch after coming on as a substitute, but Ben Halloran probably did enough to secure himself a spot in Australia's 23-man final squad.
The in-form winger was lively down the right, and he even drifted inside and was able to fire a stinging shot on goal.
In case the manager needed reminding, Halloran demonstrated that extreme pace is always a handy thing to be able to call on as the game enters its latter stages.
Winner: Mathew Leckie
Along with Oar and Cahill, Mathew Leckie put in a lively performance up top for the Socceroos, especially in the opening 25 minutes.
An explosive attacker who could become a real weapon if he improves his shooting accuracy, the 23-year-old did his chances of making the starting XI against Chile no harm at all.
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