Effortless transition for cool Carney

VIETNAM: Surprise Qantas Socceroo starter David Carney pulled through the ‘biggest game of his life’ with flying colours on Monday and was indeed integral in securing Australia’s passage through to the quarter finals.

VIETNAM: Surprise Qantas Socceroo starter David Carney pulled through the ‘biggest game of his life- with flying colours on Monday and was indeed integral in securing Australia-s passage through to the quarter finals.

Perhaps the one unexpected squad selection by coach Graham Arnold leading into the tournament, Carney was one of four changes introduced from the beginning against Asian Cup co-hosts Thailand in the Socceroos- final and most crucial Group A fixture.

Effectively replacing Luke Wilkshire on the left-hand side of defence, Carney showed the maturity and poise of a seasoned international in what was just his third appearance in the green and gold.

On occasional ventures forward, Carney added an exciting dimension to Australia-s attack and even played a significant part in Australia-s third goal - his precise long-range cross field pass finding Tim Cahill free on the right, who in turn found the head of Mark Viduka in the Thai penalty area.

"I was a bit nervous just because of the new role I was playing in, so I just wanted to make sure my positional play was right, and I did the simple things well and I thought I would grow into the game," said Carney after the match.

"It was definitely the biggest game of my life, playing with the best players from Australia and just seeing how I adapted with them, it was probably the best I-ve felt since I started playing football.

"When you-re out there alongside Viduka, Timmy and Harry, to see how I could cope with them was a great honour for me."

No question, Carney-s performance has done little to suggest his start on Monday would be his last this tournament, particularly given his unique experience against the Socceroos- quarter final opponents.

Along with Sydney FC team mate Mark Milligan, who also impressed following his surprise inclusion against Thailand, Carney possesses the most recent insight into the Japanese game following his experience against J.League giants Urawa Reds in the AFC Champions League.

Four Urawa players have figured in Japan-s campaign at these championships, including midfield lynchpin Yuki Abe - who set J.League transfer records following his switch to Urawa-s Saitama base from JEF United Chiba before the start of the current season.

Carney was one of Sydney-s better players against the Japanese domestic powerhouse - scoring the sky blues- opener at Aussie Stadium on match day two, interestingly, by finishing off a precise through ball from Milligan.

Though Carney-s role against Thailand on Monday was one in contrast to his traditional role with the inaugural Hyundai A-League champions, there is little doubting the 23-year-old flyer would pose a significant threat to a Japanese side that has been less than convincing in conceding as many goals as they have ever conceded at the group stage of an Asian Cup.

"I don-t think Thailand really created much against us, Schwarzer pulled off one or two saves but we won 4-0 which was important and I think the clean sheet will give us at the back a lot of confidence," said Carney.

"I felt great, in the last twenty minutes my calves started cramping up but breathing wise and sharpness I felt good, just the last twenty I started to fatigue - but I came through it alright.

"Saturday is a massive game, I-m really looking forward to it now and I think that-s going to be a real test for us, I hope I-ve done enough to stay in the side, that-s down to Arnie, but we-ll see."

Reigning Asian Cup champions Japan now stand between Australia and a semi final berth, with the Socceroos set to take on their nemeses of one year ago at Hanoi-s My Dinh Stadium this coming Saturday, 21 July. Kick off is at 8.20pm AEST.

Fox Sports will feature live and exclusive coverage of the match from 8pm AEST. Click here for the entire Fox Sports broadcast schedule.