Socceroos clinch third consecutive World Cup qualification!
Posted by Nick Aria
Posted in Football
Holger Osieck’s men have become the third team to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final held in Brazil. A trademark header from super-sub Joshua Kennedy in the 83rd minute proved vital for the boys in green and gold over a determined Iraqi side.
Requiring a win in order to guarantee their place next year, the Socceroos entered the sold out ANZ stadium brimming with confidence and energy. Everyone was aware they would need another solid performance if they were to beat the 2007 Asian Cup champions.
Following the run of form which Australia were in last week in conquering Jordan 4-0 all eyes were set on another triumphant victory, however, things turned out to be a lot harder then expected. The game started swiftly with Tim Cahill almost opening the scoreline after bombing up the centre of the pitch and striking at the goal from a perfect back pass by newly signed Bayer Leverkusen star Robbie Kruse. From there on in the Socceroos continued to bombard the visitors with a constant array of strikes coming left, right and centre. But the Iraqi defence proved efficient enough to sit deep, block and save.
The Socceroos next chance came in the 15th minute when the captain, Lucas Neill perfectly provided a chip cross from the right of the box to his central defence partner Sasa Ognenonvski who should have done better with the opportunity he was given.
Again 20 minutes later Cahill failed to make the most out of an incoming cross, kicking the ball from a tight angle just wide of the goal.
The last 10 minutes of the half followed in a similar fashion with the Socceroos dominating possession but failing to find the back of the net.
In the second half it went right down to the wire with Iraq starting strong. A right footed long shot from Said Salman forced Mark Schwarzer to make an exceptional save and deny the Iraqi.
25 minutes from time the Socceroos thought they had made it 1-0 when a poor header from the Iraqi defence allowed for the ball to fall to the left foot of Kruse who volleyed it into the goal. But the goal was denied when referee Faghani Laireza rightfully blew his whistle when he witnessed a foul from Ognenovski.
Attempting to make a difference, Osieck decided to sub off star man Cahill in the 78th minute for Kennedy. This move proved crucial in the 82nd minute when Kennedy scored his 16th goal for Australia and sent 80,532 fans into a frenzy!
The game ended 1-0 with the Socceroos joining Brazil and Japan in the 2014 World Cup Final!