For 10 years, Daniel Garb covered the Socceroos as closely as any other reporter while working for our broadcast partner in Fox Sports.
Here he details his top 10 moments covering Australia over 10 years. Plus, scroll to the bottom to tell us your favourite Socceroos moments!
10: Belgium in Belgium – September 2014
“This was one of several massive away friendlies for Australia between 2014 and 2016, which were all a thrill to cover. Watching our national team up against a super power in their backyard is a fantastic experience. The Socceroos played well in patches in Brugge but the brilliant Belgians - coming off a FIFA World Cup quarter final with De Bruyne, Origi, Kompany and Mertens in their XI to name but a few - were far too good, as expected. The camp was notable, however, for Ange Postecoglou’s withering reply to a Belgian journo who dared to ask if Australia ‘were scared’ of what Belgium might do to them. Ange bit back hard, asking if the reporter had bothered to watch any of our games at the World Cup. It seemed like a calculated response from Ange, sending a message to the world and Australia for that matter, that the time for inferiority complexes was done, this Socceroos team could take it to anyone and it’s time that respect started to come from both Australia and overseas. It was a strong message and made you proud to be an Australian football follower even if as a journo I felt a touch sorry for the Belgian reporter who didn’t quite know what he was walking into!”
9: World Cup Qualifiers away to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – 2015
“I never thought in my lifetime I’d visit these two countries and almost certainly won’t again but that’s what football can do. It was just such an incredible eye-opener to go to such random places and encounter such unique experiences – most notably covering a game of dead goat polo (Buzkashi) in Kyrgyzstan which is their number one sport! What resonated from both games above all however is just how passionate and emotional the locals were about having a game like this and a nation as big as Australia on their soil. Their enthusiasm was infectious, there were supporters climbing trees next to the packed stadiums in both instances to catch a glimpse of the action. Covering our national team in a unique setting like that was unforgettable.”
8: England in England, June 2016
“If there was one game I dreamed of covering while in Europe it was a clash against England. Amazingly it happened in my last year in the UK. While the Upton Park triumph of 2003 wasn’t replicated it was still awesome as Ange Postecoglou’s team took it to a top class nation yet again and dared to play their football at a time when England was sharpening up for the Euros. Aaron Mooy had a superb game, he was man of the match and while England had more firepower and secured the win, Australia played the better football. The pride that Ange Postecoglou had in the team post match could not be hidden and the question marks about England heading into the Euros were brought into sharp focus by Australia’s quality. Having grown up watching English football so closely, like so many Australian fans, it was just wonderful to cover the team against them and watch them perform so admirably.”
7: Thomas Deng and Awer Mabil debut together – Kuwait, 2018
“This is a moment that was so incredibly enriching. From South Sudan to the Socceroos for these inspiring young men. Two refugees who grew up a street apart, went to the same school and then debuted minutes after each other. It was a lovely touch from Graham Arnold and signified a new breed of Australian footballer born from a new breed of immigrants to our nation that can add depth and quality to our footballing ranks. This story was made, however, by the manner in which they spoke post match – just so beautifully about their appreciation for their single mothers who sacrificed everything, while possessing next to nothing to get them to that stage. The interview went viral to the point where Patrice Evra was tweeting about it. It resonated so strongly with the Australian public and was a great Australian football moment that I thoroughly enjoyed being able to cover.”
6: Germany in Germany, March 2015
“This was great because it was the reigning world champions taking on the reigning Asian champions two months after the Asian Cup was clinched at the same venue where Tim Cahill led us to glory against Japan at the 2006 World Cup. To manage a draw on that stage made for another great story and the continuation of a great run for the national team. Another standout moment from this camp was Jogi Loew’s pre-match press conference where we asked him about the Socceroos and he didn’t give the usual clichéd response about Australia’s physicality but rather detailed the transformation of the team to a ball playing side under Postecoglou’s watch that took it to the best in the world at their own game. Furthermore, his knowledge of Ange’s career progression dating back to his NSL titles and through to the A-League was completely unexpected but summed up the way they go about it. To hear the world’s best talk about our coach and team in that manner was fantastic.”
5: Asian Cup Final in London, 2015
“This is an interesting one, obviously the Asian Cup Final was our biggest moment of the last 10 years but I wasn’t at the ground I covered it from London. In the lead up to the final my boss asked me to look into some events that might be on in the UK so naturally I called The Walkabout (Aussie pub) first. They didn’t even know what the Asian Cup was but I said it’s a big deal and there’s a fair chance Aussies will be keen to watch it together. Alas, a day later they called me saying they’d had a good 70-80 requests to open for the game and that they were putting an event on. A few days later around 200 Aussies were lining up at 6am to go inside a pub on the other side of the world to watch our Socceroos on a grand stage. The scenes were obviously epic as Mass Luongo scored the opener and then James Troisi tucked away the winner and they were then broadcast on the coverage back at home. To see the dedication from so many Socceroos fans for our team especially in Asia was unexpected but a wonderful experience.
4: Qualifying for Russia 2018 v Honduras, 2017
“Well even though Australia has now made the last four World Cup’s, qualification is not something that should ever be taken for granted. The 32 years of pain we endured is the perfect reminder of that. So this moment, with the skipper Mile Jedinak leading the way with his hat-trick – a wonderful tale within the achievement – had to figure prominently. The triumph provided the culmination of one of the more prolonged periods the Socceroos had enjoyed as a dominant sporting story in Australia. It stretched from the end of qualification, through two playoff series, with the Postecoglou coaching innuendo providing a constant serving of national team discussion. Although there was huge disappointment when Ange eventually left, the whole period, crystallised with World Cup qualification was a big moment covering the national team as the game enjoyed sustained and prominent coverage.”
3: Holger Osieck departs – France, 2013
“This might not be a happy moment but it was certainly a massive one. We all knew it was possible heading into the clash with France in Paris should the team suffer a heavy defeat. I knew that I had to interview Holger after the game and considering his gruffness at the line of questioning before the game I wasn’t looking forward to the experience. There aren’t many reporters that would enjoy asking someone about their job security but the questions need to be delivered when a situation like that presents and this was certainly one of those. Personally I was hoping for, at worst, a 2-0 defeat so the tension post match would be lifted. At half-time Australia was down 4-0. It finished 6-0 and to be honest it could have been ten. I prepared some pointed questions for Holger and while he responded, as expected, with displeasure, to his credit he stood there waiting for the next one. That was his way, pretty old school. While the call on his future had already been made, he did admit in that interview that he wasn’t sure if the players were playing for him anymore. An hour later at the team hotel he was removed from the Socceroos post. Overall his job with Australia was a hugely positive one – he made the final of an Asian Cup and qualified the team for the World Cup but a change simply had to be made. Thankfully the FFA were steadfast on his replacement and the Postecoglou era was ushered in to great effect.”
2: 2018 World Cup in Russia
“Well nothing beats covering the Socceroos at a World Cup and Russia was just an amazing time. Sadly, Australia didn’t go through the group as was the goal but once again it was simply a magical time covering our team on that stage. It starts the night before at a World Cup, covering the pre-match parties and then the pilgrimage to the ground from the pre-match functions. It’s simply electric and outweighs anything else I’ve experienced in sport over a 24 hour period.
Australia wouldn’t have more eyes on it in a sporting sense, the world over, than in that moment. The France game, a clash with the eventual champions was thrilling and Australia had their moments to earn a result and then should have claimed just a third World Cup win against the Danes and perhaps would have if the ace up Bert Van Marwijk’s sleeve – Tim Cahill - had been used off the bench. But being able to cover our national team so closely on a stage like that is just as good as it gets.”
1: FIFA World Cup 2014 – Brazil
“I was lucky enough to cover two World Cup’s during my time with Fox and Brazil certainly edged out Russia. Expectations were so low heading in to the point where we regarded as one of the weaker teams in the tournament and then after being placed in a group of death with Holland, Chile and Spain there was genuine fear of utter humiliation on the biggest stage of all. Twenty minutes into the Chile clash our worst fears had come home to roost. But thankfully Ivan Franjic put one on the head of Cahill to just calm everyone down. You could feel the relief from the players on the pitch to the fans in the stand and the supporters back home. From there Australia played the way Postecoglou had implored them to do so, with so much courage and freedom for a half against Chile and that memorable match-up with the Dutch. Cahill’s goal there was a number one moment all in itself. An all-time World Cup strike scored by a Socceroo. There was a split second after the ball went in whereby the crowd actually goes silent. Just a split second as everyone remains in complete shock.
After that, utter bedlam of the most beautiful kind. Within 90 minutes against the dutch the pride in our national team had been completely restored after being at such a low ebb not too long before. It was a privilege to watch and report on our national team impressing the world again in the manner in which they did. The whole event was simply fantastic, I recall the night before the Holland game a whole street in Porto Alegre being shut down as we partied with the Dutch fans. Their supporter group had a brass band with them who played Waltzing Matilda at one stage. It was just awesome. It was a World Cup celebrated in the manner you expected from Brazil and joyously, Australia came to the party.”