Qantas Socceroos planning to create more history
The Qantas Socceroos have ushered in a new era for Australian football by securing successive World Cup finals berths for the first time - and already they're planning to create more history in South Africa.
DOHA, June 7 AAP - The Qantas Socceroos have ushered in a new era for Australian football by securing successive World Cup finals berths for the first time - and already they're planning to create more history in South Africa.
A scoreless draw against Qatar in Doha on Saturday night gave Australia the point needed to seal a spot at only their third World Cup after 1974 and 2006.
It was a far cry from the euphoria of the penalty shootout win over Uruguay four years ago, which took them to Germany.
But from a broad standpoint, it was equally spectacular - achieved with two games to go and without losing a game or conceding a goal in the final stage of qualification.
The performance vindicated the appointment of Pim Verbeek, who was relatively unknown before taking up the role but proved he was the right man for the job.
Now the Dutchman says his team is out to better the performance it achieved under his compatriot Guus Hiddink, who led the side to the last 16 in Germany before losing to eventual champions Italy.
"We have to go there and do it better than last time," Verbeek said.
"I think you have to make targets in life and the players are going to do that also.
"Now that we have qualified we want to do better than last time, and we will do everything possible to do that."
Australia's qualification helped to further erase years of heartache where, on many occasions, they came so close to reaching the tournament but fell at the last hurdle.
"Talking 10 years ago, Australia's dream was just to make the World Cup," midfielder Vince Grella said.
"Now we've made two in row and and I think we shouldn't forget how important it is.
"People are thinking it was our right to make the World Cup.
"It's not our right, we're still a growing nation and to make it two times on the trot means we're making steps forward."
Harry Kewell, one of the Qantas Socceroos' best against Qatar, said Australia would now command more respect in world football.
"It's a respect thing if you make back to back World Cups," he said.
"Only the great teams make it every four years."
Australia will be joined in South Africa by Asian rivals Japan and South Korea, who also qualified on Saturday with wins over Uzbekistan and the UAE respectively - as well as Holland, who became the first European nation qualified.
The Qantas Socceroos remain top of Asia's Group A on for and against ahead of Japan, with Bahrain, Uzbekistan and Qatar now left to fight out the third place playoff spot.
The Australian squad will return home to Sydney on Monday, ahead of Wednesday's clash with Bahrain and a meeting with Japan in Melbourne a week later.
Those matches loom as an official celebration as both players and fans soak up the fact they have reached another World Cup.
"This is for the people, it's for (the media), it's for everyone that loves football in Australia," an emotional captain Lucas Neill said in Doha.
"Now we're going to get the chance to go over and create even more history in South Africa."