Behich hopeful World Cup performances have inspired the next generation
Aziz Behich says the Socceroos can leave the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ with an immense sense of pride after its Round of 16 elimination.
Australia, enjoyed its most successful tournament, having won consecutive matches while keeping two clean sheets for the first time.
The 31-year-old Dundee United left-back was one of the standout players for Australia, playing every minute of all four games.
Speaking to reporters in a press conference, Behich said although it was tough falling short 2-1 to Argentina, they can be proud of their efforts.
“Obviously we're disappointed we lost but we got off that pitch with our head held high that's for sure,” said Behich, who has 57 caps and two goals for his country.
“We got points on the board this World Cup, clean sheets, and we played great football as a group.
“The last four and a half years that's what we've been building towards.
“We wanted to be the greatest Socceroos team ever. It wasn't just the saying but it was the belief that this group had.
“The coaching staff, the hard work they put behind the scenes these last four years during these qualifiers, and the confidence they showed in us and made us believe and buy into what they wanted us to do.
“I couldn't be more proud of the boys, waking up this morning like you said, it's upsetting that we lost because I thought we did kind off enough to maybe get a result out of that game but just wasn’t to be.”
After Craig Goodwin’s deflected half-volley found its way into the back of the net on 77 minutes, Behich went on a marauding run, slaloming his way past three players.
As he pulled the trigger, his right-footed attempted was sensationally blocked by a sliding Lisandro Martinez.
Without question it would have been a goal of the tournament contender had he scored.
“I just remember getting the ball and I think one of their players didn't want to foul me,” he said.
“So once I got ahead of him, and I started get picking up some pace, and I got in the box I just knew they just touched me here anything can happen.
“To be honest with you, the guy that did the slide tackle (Lisandro Martinez) I didn't see him so as I've got past the last guy, I actually opened my body and I said, as long as I hit the target here it's in.
“Looking back at the video that 'keeper has actually gone the wrong way as well, as I've taken the shot.
“It was a great tackle was pretty much like a Harry Souttar tackle (against Tunisia), but this time was on us and it would have been great. It would have been a special moment for our country and our team but wasn't to be.”
Behich, who has now started all seven of his FIFA World Cup matches across 2018 and 2022, is optimistic their endearing performances can be the catalyst for Australian football to continue growing in an upward trajectory.
Eight of the 26 players in the FIFA World Cup squad ply their trade in the A-League Men’s competition, while a further 13 have come through the A-League whether at youth or senior level before moving abroad.
“This should be a massive stepping stone for football in Australia to go forward,” he said.
“And I can't see why it shouldn't. I’m hoping that we've inspired the next generation coming through that it's possible to match the best in the world, even being Australian.
"And look it obviously puts the A-League on the map as well, we had a fair few boys from the league in there.
"I think this is the perfect moment for Australian football to step forward and make sure that the sport gets more recognised back home.”
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