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Australian captain Neill urges teammates to make a difference

Australian national team captain Lucas Neill wants the players in the squad to not rest on recent successes. The Galatasaray star has urged his teammates to grab every chance they get at international level so that they can help change the fate of Australian football.

Ahead of Tuesday night's (Wednesday 5:45am AEDT) international friendly with Germany in Monchengladbach, Neill said it was an important time for the Socceroos, who recently came so close to winning the Asian Cup.

"The message is to make sure they maximise their opportunities," Neill told the Herald. "You have to because you don't know how many more you're going to get.

"The players have to recognise it's not good enough to play in an Asia Cup final and say, 'I played for Australia at a good time, we made the final of a tournament.' You have to make a name for yourself and bring that reputation as an individual to a really good team and contribute to the team.

"The young guys are realising it's not just about making the squad, it's about making the squad and making a difference.

"Collectively, Australia needs to keep punching away at the top 20 in the world, hopefully we'll make it into that tent."

Neill admitted the loss to Japan in the Asian Cup final may be the turning point for the Australians who have learnt plenty from the narrow defeat.

"It was great to make the final because we showed strong potential, we had a very positive attitude and there was a real determination," he added. "But maybe there was a naivety there, too; a lack of experience in finals because we tripped at the final hurdle. Maybe it was fatigue [after 109 minutes] for the lapse in concentration; maybe we didn't make enough of the threatening chances, but it cost us a trophy, and that will hurt for many years.

"There's no guarantee it will happen again, but now we know as a team how to get there we have to get [to a major final] again."

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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