The Socceroos were officially farewelled in Melbourne yesterday afternoon.
They boarded a specially decorated Qantas jet bound for Johannesburg, where they will enter an intensive training camp in preparation for their July 13 World Cup opener against powerhouse Germany.
Premier John Brumby was there to see them off, along with Federal Minister for Employmant Participation Mark Arbib and representatives from Qantas and the FFA.
“This is a great team, which is capable of exceptional things and the people of our state, the people of Victoria, the people of Australia are one hundred percent behind the Qantas Socceroos,” said the Premier, addressing the team at the farewell ceremony at Melbourne Airport.
“We are with you all the way and we wish you exceptional things for yourself, for your team and for your country,” he said.
Captain Lucas Neill echoed the Premier’s hopes.
“We are going to go out and do you proud and let’s hope we can have another rollercoaster of excitement like the last journey was,” he said.
Veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was brimming with excitement at the prospect of another successful World Cup campaign.
“It’s the pinnacle of anyone’s career, obviously having the fortunate position of being in the last World Cup and having that experience of what it was like, to knowing now what lies ahead to a degree … I’m very very excited about it.”
The Socceroos’ 28-man provisional squad:
Goalkeepers: Mark Schwarzer, Adam Federici, Brad Jones, Eugene Galekovic.
Defenders: Scott Chipperfield, David Carney, Lucas Neill, Michael Beauchamp, Shane Lowry, Craig Moore, Mark Milligan, Rhys Williams, Luke Wilkshire.
Midfielders: Vince Grella, Carl Valeri, Jason Culina, Mile Jedinak, Tim Cahill, Brett Holman, Dario Vidosic, Mark Bresciano, Brett Emerton, Richard Garcia, James Holland, Tommy Oar.
Strikers: Nikita Rukavytsya, Josh Kennedy, Harry Kewell.