Australia get the point - Full Report
Australia booked a ticket to the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa with a scoreless draw against a determined Qatar at the Al Sadd Club in Doha on Saturday night.
DOHA, June 6 AAP - Australia booked a ticket to the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa with a scoreless draw against a determined Qatar at the Al Sadd Club in Doha on Saturday night.
Needing only a point to officially seal qualification, the Qantas Socceroos got the job done against a youthful Qatar side to ensure back-to-back World Cup appearances for the first time.
The home side proved tougher opposition than they had in three previous losses, but Australia could feel unlucky not to have won after Tim Cahill struck the post with a spectacular bicycle kick in the first half and Qatari keeper Qasem Burhan made several brilliant saves in the second.
The win means the Qantas Socceroos cannot finish any lower than second in Asia's Group A, with the top two teams earning qualification.
They joined Asian rivals Japan as the first two sides to qualify for next year's tournament, after the Blue Samurai sealed their spot with a 1-0 win over Uzbekistan earlier on Saturday.
Hosts South Africa are exempt from qualifying.
Both sides made a tentative start in front of a small but vocal Doha crowd, with the Qantas Socceroos content to keep possession in the hot and humid conditions.
Qatar's star striker Sebastian Soria Quintana looked dangerous early on and had the first real chance of the half after getting in behind Chris Coyne, but he flashed his shot across the face of goal.
The Qantas Socceroos muscled their way back into the game before Cahill was denied one of the great goals by the woodwork in the 27th minute.
Josh Kennedy, who impressed up front, flicked on a Mark Bresciano free kick with his head, before Cahill found himself in space, controlled with his chest and drilled an overhead kick into the right upright.
Harry Kewell became increasingly menacing after switching to the right wing, going close to scoring himself before creating another move which led to Vince Grella firing a volley just over the bar in the 33rd minute.
Qatar had two chances late in the half with Cahill blocking Quintana's effort and Mark Schwarzer punching away an ambitions long shot from Ahmed Faris.
Australia stepped up their game early in the second half with a flash of chances within a 10-minute period.
The first came to an unlikely source in defender Chris Coyne, who had his shot cleared off the line after attempting to turn in a headed Cahill effort.
The impressive Everton midfielder again hit another stunner when his powerful drive was brilliantly saved in the 57th minute by Burhan.
Burhan was called into action again to tip over a Kennedy shot from out wide and once more in the 63rd minute when Kewell collected a brilliant Grella ball; cut inside Ibrahim Majed and forced another great save by Burhan with his right foot.
Kewell continued to threaten and fired across the face of goal in the 80th and although they didn't get the goal they perhaps deserved, it meant little when the whistle blew to ensure another historic World Cup appearance.
The Qantas Socceroos now have matches against Bahrain and Japan at home to celebrate. Tickets are available for the remaining two qualifying matches from Ticketek
For information on FIFA World Cup Ticketing, click here.