Sydney - Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said his team are heading in the right direction but still have work to do ahead of the Soccer World Cup after an uninspiring 1-1 draw against South Africa.
While Australia did not play injured first-choice squad members Mile Jedinak, Mark Bresciano and Matthew Spiranovic on Monday, there was little to enthuse about before they depart for Brazil on Wednesday.
But Postecoglou was keen to put a positive spin on the game, as he trimmed his travelling party to 27 Tuesday by axing Curtis Good, Adam Sarota and Josh Brillante.
"I can't be too critical of the players," he said, after Tim Cahill equalised for the Socceroos in the 14th minute following Ayanda Patosi's opener a minute earlier.
"We have worked them really hard for 10 days and when you do that, obviously they're going to pay a little bit of a price in the game.
"I think we're heading in the right direction and we'll continue to do so."
He added: "There's a lot of work for us to do".
"But we've got a couple more games and another three weeks (so) hopefully we can keep improving."
The inexperienced Australians, the lowest ranked team in the World Cup at 59, face a daunting task in Brazil against Spain, the Netherlands and Chile in Group B.
It is a Socceroos side in transition following the dropping of former captain and defender Lucas Neill and the recent international retirements of goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, forward Harry Kewell and midfielders Brett Emerton and Brett Holman.
Veteran Cahill, 34, said there were some good signs against the injury-depleted South Africans, adding that Australia were working on a plan to be ready for their World Cup opener against Chile on June 13.
"There was 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," he said.
"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. There were a lot of changes but we have to live and die in what we believe in.
"It's all about peaking at the right time."