Soccer-Australia coach encouraged by goalless draw with Colombia

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SYDNEY, March 28 (Reuters) - Australia coach Bert van Marwijk was encouraged by the progress shown by his World Cup-bound side after they held Colombia to a goalless draw in London on Tuesday only a few days after being thrashed by Norway.

The Socceroos rode their luck at times at Craven Cottage against a Colombia side that beat France 3-2 in Paris last week and goalkeeper Danny Vukovic had to save a Miguel Borja penalty to keep a clean sheet on his international debut.

Dutchman van Marwijk was pleased that his first few training sessions were already bearing fruit with a distinct improvement over his first match in charge last Friday, when Australia were beaten 4-1 in Oslo.

"Colombia are one of the best teams in the world, we saw that last week. When you win in France you are a very good team," he said.

"Today we had a very good plan and we could see the way we want to play. We played very well in the first half. In the second half it was more difficult because of the qualities of Colombia but we showed good character to get the 0-0."

One of the first changes Van Marwijk made was to switch from three at the back, the system controversially instituted by his predecessor Ange Postecoglou, to a four-man defence.

Australia looked more compact and much better organised than they were in Norway, with the central defenders holding a higher line and the midfielders offering more support.

"You could see that the players can see how we want to play and if you ask them after the game, they like to play in that way," he added.

"The best combination is that you play in a way that fits the players, and also the coach.

"It must become better and better but this is a good start."

Van Marwijk, who led his native Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final, said he had been impressed by the attitude of the whole Australian set-up.

"I have the experience of the world championships, you travel with maybe 55 people and everybody has to have the same body language, and everyone has to believe in something," said the coach, who will name his preliminary World Cup squad on May 14.

"When of those 55 doesn't believe or is negative, you see it on the pitch. My impression until now is that all the people are looking in the same direction.

"We go to Russia to survive the first round, that's our goal," he added. (Editing by Peter Rutherford )