Socceroos midfielder Keanu Baccus was proud of the way his Australian side performed against England at Wembley Stadium on Saturday Morning, but felt the Socceroos deserved a better result after being handed defeat by a 57th-minute Ollie Watkins tap-in.
Australia played well against a tough England outfit, outnumbering the Three Lions in both shots and shots on target, but would inevitably come undone midway through the second half when Manchester City star Jack Grealish found former Aston Villa teammate at the back post for an easy goal.
For Baccus, who made the Socceroos squad after impressive form for third-placed Scottish Premiership side St Mirren, Australia’s English test marked his fifth International cap since his debut against New Zealand in September last year.
Speaking to the media, Baccus said he enjoyed the experience of playing at one of the most iconic stadiums in the world, but was left feeling like the team deserved a better result from the game:
“Since I was a young boy, I wanted to play at stadiums like that against opposition like that, got the chance with the 90 minutes. I’m very proud of everyone involved, but I think we deserved a little bit more from the game,” he said.
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The 25-year-old defensive midfielder has had a successful couple of seasons playing in Europe, making thirty-three appearances for his St Mirren side last season, and playing in all eight games so far this season. Baccus has cemented his spot in The Buddies midfield, after joining from A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers in June last year.
His recent European experiences in Scotland, paired with his four appearances at last year’s Qatar FIFA World Cup, including a start in the Round of 16 clash against Argentina, helped Baccus cope with the pressure in Australia’s first ever game at Wembley.
“Moving to Scotland was big for me personally, getting some European football under my belt, and playing big teams like Celtic and Rangers, has helped,” Baccus said.
“Then going to the World Cup personally helped with confidence, getting used to stadiums and noise like that.
“I just want to improve each game, and hopefully we can win games like this and big games going forward”.
Despite going down to the 2021 Euro finalists, the game against England at Wembley Stadium was the first chance to play at the stadium for many in the Socceroos camp. Although the history records will show a 1-0 victory for the Three Lions, Baccus holds the Wembley experience as one of the greatest of his career, and believes there are plenty of positives to take away from the game.
“Over the last twelve to eighteen months I’ve experienced a lot in my footballing career, it was amazing honestly, the lead-up was amazing, the game was amazing,” he said.
“Credit to everyone, I think we went out there and performed to the best of our abilities, fine details that we’ll take away from the game and improve on.
“A little bit disappointing, which is a positive for us, they are a world-class side, number four in the world, it was just a moment off of a set-piece that we switched off just for a second, but we’ll learn from that as a team and we’ll grow from it.”
Putting the England loss to bed, the Socceroos quickly turn their focus to their upcoming fixture on Wednesday against New Zealand’s All Whites at the Gtech Community Stadium.
Australia and New Zealand will battle it out in a match many refer to as the ‘Football Ashes’, with the trans-Tasman rivalry dating back over 100 years.
Growing up in one of the most sports-obsessed nations in the world, Baccus looks forward to winning every trophy imaginable, including the ‘Football Ashes’:
“Ever since I was young I always loved football. From four or five years old I’ve always had a ball at my feet, and then as you get older you start to watch legends of the game, whether that being in Australia and all other top leagues in the world”, he said.
“I definitely always wanted to represent my country and play in these big games and big moments, and I want to win anything that comes my way, whether that be trophies, one-off games, so we’re going to go out there to win that game”.
Australia and New Zealand face each other in the last game of the International break, with kick-off commencing at 5:15 AM Australian Central Daylight Zone from the Gtech Community Stadium.