FIFA World Cup Group D: How we got there
How the Qantas Socceroos qualified for South Africa
How we got there…
Australia was seeded with the top five other sides who avoid playing in the first two round of qualification. They were then placed in a four team group with Qatar, Iraq and China. Australia 3-0 Qatar Three first half goals from Kennedy, Cahill and Bresciano were enough to send the 50,000 Melbourne fans home happy and ensure the Qantas Socceroos started their campaign in good fashion.
China PR 0-0 Australia Mark Schwarzer turned from villain to hero after giving away a 90th minute penalty and then saving it. A reasonably full strength Aussie side struggled with the Chinese and were probably happy to escape with a point.
Australia 1-0 Iraq Schwarzer was again on good form between the sticks as Harry Kewell-s second half goal got the team out of jail. Pim Verbeek called it a “lucky” win but Australia put one foot in the next round with these three points.
Iraq 1-0 Australia A reasonably strong side were shocked by an Iraqi team who were playing in Dubai. A cross turned shot caught Mark Schwarzer out and went in off the under side of the crossbar, making Australia wait for another week before they could qualify for the next round.
Qatar 1-3 Australia The Qantas Socceroos confirmed qualification in style after winning in Doha. Two goals from Brett Emerton and one from Kewell were enough to ensure Australia progressed to the all important next stage.
Australia 0-1 China PR A stunning strike embarrassed the under strength Aussie side in front of over 70,000 fans at the Olympic Stadium. After just 12 minutes, China scored the all important goal which was enough to take the points but with the Qantas Socceroos already qualified, it was a good experience for many of Pim-s squad players to get a run-out.
Fourth Round Qualifiers
Uzbekistan 0-1 Australia A 26th minute Scott Chipperfield goal was enough to ensure that Australia took the points from a tricky away tie in Uzbekistan. The win was massively important in Australia-s bid to reach South Africa after an unconvincing previous round of qualifiers.
Australia 4-0 Qatar An excellent performance saw Australia overcome previous qualification group rivals with ease and put forward their FIFA World Cup aspirations. In front of just under 35,000 fans in Brisbane, goals from Cahill, Emerton and Kennedy were enough to ensure the Aussies took the points.
Bahrain 0-1 Australia A late-late Bresciano made sure Australia kept up their 100% record and took all the points from the away trip to Bahrain. The goal came in the third minute of injury time after Bresciano capitalised on a defensive mistake to put the Aussies on top of the group.
Japan 0-0 Australia The two favourite sides to progress to the tournament proper faced off in front of a crowd of 66,000 in Yokohama. Neither side could break the deadlock but by getting a point Australia were half way through and could look forward to three home games that should make their route to the finals easier.
Australia 2-0 Uzbekistan Second half goals from Kewell and Kennedy ensured that they had one foot in South Africa and had to wait on the following night-s game to see if they were already there. Bahrain eventually won, meaning that Australia had to wait for the next game.
Qatar 0-0 Australia With just a point needed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, that-s exactly what Pim-s men got. An unconvincing encounter saw a few chances come the Qantas Socceroos' way but this was enough to make the last two games a battle for top spot.
Australia 2-0 Bahrain Second half strikes from Sterjovski and Carney gave the Aussies the three points and made sure we were at the top of the group ahead of the final match in Melbourne. An impressive workman-like performance saw the Qantas Socceroos grab the points.
Australia 2-1 Japan They certainly saved the best ‘til last with this performance as a classy Australia side took top spot. Despite the game being a dead rubber, pride was at stake and Tim Cahill scored both the goals to content the 70,000 Melbourne faithful and see Australia top the group undefeated and five points clear. They made it look easy in the end!
What happens next?
As Australia waited with bated breath to see who we-d face in South Africa, the sides that came out of the hat couldn-t have been more competitive.
FIFA-s seeding system saw Australia in pot two, meaning that they-d almost certainly get a football powerhouse or hosts South Africa.
When Germany, Serbia and Ghana came out of the hat, it seemed that Australia were in the toughest group in the tournament on paper, group D.
If the Qantas Socceroos get through the group then it-s fairly simple who they-ll face next. There are two possibilities: Top team in Group C if we finish second, or second place side from Group C if we finish top. This probably means either a tie against England or USA.
From here, things get a bit more complicated as there are lots of possibilities. According to the bookies, if Australia finish top then sides to look out for on this side of the draw are should be Argentina, Italy, Spain and hosts South Africa. It-ll also see us avoid England if they top Group C.
If we finish second, sides such as England, France, Holland and Brazil await, according to the bookies.
Either way it-s tough but if the history books are anything to go by, it looks like winning the group is the best option as there are less previous World Cup winners and less fancied teams on this side of the draw!
Only one thing-s for sure, if we do qualify then we can-t play Germany until the final of the tournament.