I was in transit to Los Angeles when that moment – that will long live in Australian football history – was created by Graham Arnold and his team. Mathew Leckie’s strike earned a 1-0 victory over Denmark and erased all the details of the two prior matches.
Winning is everything in the World Cup and qualifying to the Second Round was unimaginable two matches ago.
A friend of mine the former South Melbourne Hellas legend Con Boutsianis, once told me the best advertisement for a soccer player is in the media the day after a player has scored and the result is particularly 1-0 with your name and minute you scored in the headlines alongside the result.
Mitchell Duke and Matthew Leckie will now take their place in the pantheon of Socceroos who scored in World Cups such as greats, Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell.
The lack of possession meant very little as two magnificent strikes decided both games, in particular the Victorian Matthew Leckie’s goal won the break will be replayed for many years to come. It was world class.
Observing the clubs that the players play compared to our golden generation puts into play the size of this achievement. A J2 and A league striker finished off Tunisia and Denmark a long way off the days a Liverpool or Leeds player was doing the same.
Hats off to a Arnold’s boys in finding an effective game plan to find two victories, it was amazing to see Australia play this way.
Arnold has his critics and I was one of them, but I must say watching from the sidelines they look fit, sharp and organised as any country we have seen in the world cup.
The intensity, the constant pressing, with and when they lose the ball they get in the low block with tightly organised lines where there is no room for any pass or player to get through. These are all hallmarks of great modern teams that play counter attack football. It requires much work and fitness to perform effectively.
Now the mountain to climb, engagement with Lionel Messi and two time winners, the giants Argentina.
The boys must be pinching themselves as they prepare for the defining moment in their careers.
Go Socceroos and “why not?” as Graham Arnold will say.
*Peter Kokotis was a former football agent and is currently a director of the South Melbourne FC