Graham Arnold: This is one of the greatest achievements ever
After overcoming the challenges of an up and down qualification campaign, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold was full of praise for his players following their dramatic shootout victory over Peru.
1,008 days and 20 qualifying games after the journey to Qatar began, the Socceroos secured their place at this year's World Cup with a 5-4 penalty shootout victory over Peru.
A strong team display, a well-executed game plan, along with the heroics of the substitute Goalkeeper, Andrew Redmayne, helped seal the Socceroos' spot at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
The victory capped off a qualification campaign full of ups and downs. The Socceroos did it the hard way after finishing third in Group B behind Saudi Arabia and Japan.
It meant they had to win two sudden-death games against UAE and then Peru in the intercontinental play-off. And they managed to pull it off.
Arnold reflected on the qualification journey after and how the Socceroos managed to overcome all the odds to qualify for a fifth-consecutive tournament.
“I am just so proud of the players,” Arnold told Network Ten following the Peru victory.
“Really no one knows what these boys have been through to get here; it was so hard, the whole campaign. The way they stuck at it, the way they committed themselves – incredible.
I called out Anthony Albanese the other day to give everyone a day off to celebrate this because I believe this is just one of the greatest achievements ever to qualify for this World Cup the way we’ve had to go through things.”
The outpouring of emotion was incredible. After all the hardships that the squad faced, the Socceroos proved all the doubters wrong.
While everybody involved had their own unique story as to what motivated them throughout the journey, Arnold chose to pay homage to his older brother Colin, who had been a rock in his life when times were tough.
“The doubters don’t bother me. It is these boys I care for, these boys I care for. I do it for my family; I want to dedicate this one to my brother, Colin,” Arnold explained.
When my parents died when I was young, I didn’t have anyone really to support me, my older brother has been there my whole life and he is number one.”
He added: “I just hope my wife doesn’t get upset I didn’t thank her and my kids. Sarah, we did it!”
Arnold’s decision to send substitute goalkeeper Redmayne into the fray with an eye on a penalty shootout also raised a few eyebrows.
But destiny prevailed and Redmayne, dancing on the goal line just as he has done throughout his A-League Men career, stood up to make the match-winning save against Peru.
Despite such a high-pressure situation, Arnold said he made the last-minute substitution in an attempt to add some unpredictability to the shootout.
“Andrew Redmayne is a very good penalty saver,” Arnold said.
And to try and get into the mind, the mental aspect for Peru, why are we making that change? To add that little bit of uncertainty in their brains, that is the reason why.
“It was fantastic.”