A trademark header from veteran Tim Cahill rescued a 1-1 draw for the new-generation Socceroos against South Africa during a high-intensity World Cup farewell friendly at ANZ Stadium tonight.
With Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou due to announce his 27-man squad for Brazil tomorrow there was everything to play for. But unlike previous farewell games in 2006 and 2010 the Australians were denied a win.
There were plenty of positive signs, however, as the Socceroos exploded out of the blocks.
Tommy Oar - who was impressive in the first-half - and James Troisi squandered golden opportunities in the opening exhanges as the Socceroos swarmed forward in wave after wave of attack.
Then completely against the run of play, Bafana Banfana struck in the 12th minute. James Holland's pass was picked off in midfield, leaving the Socceroos inexperienced defence scrambling into the box.
But Thulani Serero had set up a brilliant chance and when the ball was laid off to Ayanda Patosi, the 21-year-old rifled it under the diving figure of goalkeeper Mat Ryan and into the bottom right corner for the opener.
Stand-in skipper Cahill fired back almost immediately sending the 50,400 plus crowd into raptures. The green and gold talisman rising above Bafana goalkeeper Seno Meyiwa to meet Oar's cross and bring up his 32nd international goal to put the home side back on level terms.
In the first 22 minutes the Socceroos racked up 9 shots on goal - six on target - but were let down by some poor crosses into the area leaving the defence stranded on the counter.
Ange Postecoglou's men went into the match under an injury curse with defender Curtis Good expected to be ruled out of the final World Cup squad with an ongoing hip flexor problem and fellow defender Matthew Spiranovic sidelined from the match with an ankle injury. Captain Mile Jedinak was also rested after picking up an injury on the last day of EPL action with Crystal Palace while Tom Rogic continued to struggle with his fitness.
And there was more bad news for Postecoglou when Brisbane Roar's Ivan Franjic limped from the field on 53 minutes with a knock to the knee and was repleced by twice World Cup veteran Luke Wilkshire.
Bafana, who failed to qualify for 2014, had their own problems. Coach Gordon Igesund was also forced into wholesale squad changes prior to leaving for Australia with as many as 15 players pulling out of the tour.
The second-half was more measured as both coaches went to the subsitution bench - neither side able to break the deadlock.
With the World Cup kick-off just 18 days away - where the likes of Spain and The Netherlands lie in wait - the Socceroos will have another warm-up friendly against Croatia on June 7.