Mark Bresciano insists the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has been increasingly difficult compared to four years ago.
To qualify for Rio in a years’ time, the Australian national team need a victory from their final group stage match in Asian qualifying when they host Iraq in Sydney on Tuesday.
That would take their points total to 13 from eight matches, four points behind group winners Japan, which is in stark comparison to their qualifying record for Germany 2010.
During that campaign, the Socceroos won six and drew two of their eight final group stage fixtures, and leading Bresciano to believe that their Asian opponents are always improving.
"It has been tough, compared with how it was in 2009 to qualify for 2010, football's changing," Bresciano said.
"A lot of countries who years ago you probably thought it was a walk in the park, it's not like that anymore. Football as a sport is improving everywhere, not just in Australia, and I think we have to pay a lot more attention and respect to these countries.
"Not just the fans but also us involved in the team, I think we have to respect them a lot more than we used to.
"They've shown that anyone can beat anyone these days, it all comes down to your performance on the day and how focused you are. It's always going to be tough, but Australia always has an edge, the physical attributes, the mental strength."