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The Socceroos' world in motion

by Francis Leach on May 13, 2011

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Football remains a “world in motion”, and it seems to be moving at a quicker pace than ever before.
This time last year many of us were sorting out our Pith Helmets and safari suits, readying ourselves for a South African adventure. It was to prove a challenging, remarkable and exhilarating experience for both the Socceroos and thousands of fans who made the journey.

And in many ways I think it might be the making of the national team.

In 2006, the German odyssey that the Socceroos enjoyed had all the hallmarks of a fantasy football dream come true. The miracle of Kaiserslautern, the ecstasy and madness of Stuttgart and the heartbreaking finale against Italy had all the trademarks of a once in a life time experience.

And so it proved to be.

In South Africa, the Socceroos woke up to the reality that fairytales are only for bedtime stories. The humiliation in Durban at the hands of a young, exuberant German team was a cruel reminder that football at this level is hard graft.

It also gave the Socceroos the chance to do what good teams do when faced with adversity — find a way back. If the Durban disaster was a hard landing, then the win over Serbia in Nelspruit was Australian football learning to stand on its own two feet after being decked and tasting the canvas.

With a new boss in charge, the Socceroos were remade and remodelled and have responded accordingly. Holger Osieck has restored faith in the local talent, chosen players on form rather than reputation and found a couple of gems in the process.

Who amongst us ever thought Robbie Kruse or Matt McKay would be the star turn in January’s Asian Cup? That heroic but failed campaign has restored faith in football the Australian way, played with a spirit to go forward, attack , assert yourself in the contest and be unafraid to be tested against the best.
It was fitting that Osieck led the team to an historic victory over Germany less than a year after being smashed in Durban. It was a vindication of the journey he has set out on with his team.

And that journey continues with the upcoming matches here at home against the Kiwis in Adelaide on Sunday June the 5th and another re-match with a World Cup Finals opponent in Serbia when they meet in Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday June 7th.

With World Cup qualification rounds commencing within the year, the Socceroos have already begun the process of being readied for a challenge many of us thought impossible 10 years ago - Qualification for our third consecutive World Cup finals appearance in Brazil in 2014.

It will be tougher than ever before. The sun is setting on the “Golden Generation” and it’s doubtful that the likes of Kewell, Bresciano and Neill, for so long the main stays of the national team, will be invited to this samba party.

And there has been that nagging fear amongst many of us that those that will be asked to fill their boots won’t be able to match the feats of predecessors. Thankfully, Osieck understands that exceeding expectation and defying the doubters is his one true mission.

And as the football world spins in ever increasing motion, you never know what surprises – and delights it might provide.