The task before Australia is Herculean.
To qualify for the Confederations Cup semi-finals, the Socceroos must beat Chile – the pre-tournament favourites, the world No.4s, the South American champions – and they must do it two goals. On top of that, form is against the Socceroos.
The Australians’ two outings in Russia to date have produced an inconsistent showing against Germany and a draw with Cameroon.
And history is against the Socceroos as well.
Australia have lost their last four meetings with Chile. The only other meeting – at the 1974 World Cup – produced a 0-0 draw.
Logic says it can’t be done.
Led by world-class striker Alexis Sanchez, Chile have won the last two Copa Americas and might have done better at the last two World Cups, only to be knocked out on both occasions by Brazil.
But these are the matches that players lust for, and Socceroos striker Tomi Juric has vowed to be up for the challenge.
“It’s our biggest challenge yet,” he said after Australia’s 1-1 draw with Cameroon on Thursday night.
“It’s going to be tough now because the odds are against us – they’re the best side in this tournament.
“We know how much they’ve developed, and we’re kind of on that path now. The best we can do is put our mind to this game and get three points.”
After weeks of attention on the Socceroos’ new back three, it was the forward line that came into focus in St Petersburg.
There was a lack of cohesion in the Australian attack, which showed up in a 19-5 shot count favouring Cameroon.
Juric battled hard without reward against Cameroon, missing a strong second-half chance from Mat Leckie’s cross.
Admitting the forward line had “a lot of room to improve”, Juric insisted it could flourish under Postecoglou’s 3-2-4-1 system if his teammates continue to try monopolising possession.
“In these coming games, if we continue to get it in to our system, it can work a dream,” he said.
“It just needs little bit of fine-tuning, that little bit extra that will make us a really good side. It’s just small details now that count.
“I know my role. I know it’s to be patient. I know I’m not going to see a lot of the ball. I know it’s going to be tough. Maybe one chance in the game, two max.
“It gets frustrating when we don’t keep the ball as well as we can. When we start to keep the ball we start wearing oppositions down.”