Make no mistake, Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou considers a win against Ecuador to be important.
But he’ll be able to cope with defeat so long as his young charges play to his style and game plan.
Australia take on world No.24 Ecuador at The Den in London on Wednesday night (0700 Thursday AEDT) in the last clash before Postecoglou picks his 30-strong squad for Brazil in May.
“With few opportunities between now and the World Cup to play friendly games, winning is how you put self-belief and confidence in the players,” said Postecoglou.
“But at the same time we want to win a certain way and just as importantly we want to play to our philosophy and make sure whatever we achieve out of the game is by design and not by accident.”
Postecoglou has three uncapped players in his 23-man squad – Curtis Good, Massimo Luongo and Alex Wilkinson – as he looks to build on the promising foundation of November’s home defeat of Costa Rica in his first game at the helm.
With Monday’s training session cancelled due to heavy rain, players had only Tuesday’s run at the match venue to further impress and the coach was giving little away about whether any of the three newcomers would debut – though it seems none will start.
“That will depend on how the game’s going,” he said.
“But it’s not just about the game. It’s about having people in and around the group and at training and seeing how they fit in with the culture we’re trying to create.”
Ecuador, like Australia, are in World Cup-preparation mode after qualifying through the tough South American confederation and they’re spearheaded by Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia.
Postecoglou admitted the world No.53 Socceroos would have their hands full combating Ecuador’s pace and skill.
“Like most South American teams they’ve got players who are technically gifted,” he said.
“But they are also a very strong and very quick side particularly in transition.”
With former captain Lucas Neill overlooked, Postecoglou has chosen former Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak to skipper the side.
Postecoglou said Jedinak was a key player heading into the World Cup because he is one of few Australians playing at the highest level.
“It’s a reward for him,” the Australian manager told reporters.
“He’s playing in one of the toughest leagues in the world, captaining his club side and playing well.
“He’s an outstanding candidate to lead us tomorrow night. Beyond that Mile is in the same boat as everyone else – he needs to continue to play well and continue to show form.”
Belgium-based keeper Mathew Ryan is set to start in goal ahead of Mitchell Langerak and Brad Jones.
“Mat did very well against Costa Rica and he’s the one who’s been playing regularly so it makes sense he’s likely to start,” Postecoglou said.
“But whether he plays 90 minutes or 45 or shares it with one of the other two – they’re the kind of decisions we’ll make closer to the game.”