One Year On | FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: The final reflection

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 was a defining moment for the Subway Socceroos as they proved they could match it with the best.


For the players in the squad, it was also a defining moment in their careers, and perhaps the best experience of their footballing lives.

One year on, the players have enjoyed looking back on the memories and the moments from the tournament.

It would seem they all wish they could go back and relive it all over again.

On the pitch

Australia played four games at the tournament, as we all know. All those games were against teams who were ranked higher than the Socceroos in the FIFA World Rankings.

Australia shocked France by taking the lead, defeated Tunisia and Denmark (keeping a clean sheet in both games) and took eventual winners Argentina all the way to the final whistle.

Just think about how impressive that is for a moment. Truly, a great tournament for the Socceroos.

Striker Mitchell Duke, who scored against Tunisia, said: “I think to be able to say that we scored in every match that we played in, that was just a crazy experience, also an even crazier feeling of adrenaline.

“Every game I think we showed ourselves and you know, I think that's what given a lot more respect to the football community, especially here in Australia as well and the rest of the world.”

Jackson Irvine likened the tournament to a rollercoaster and added that the success of the Socceroos in Qatar summed up the unity in the squad.

“I think a roller coaster is probably one of the best ways to put it,” he said.

“But you know, just the strength and mentality of everybody to come through everything we had to overcome as well, sums it up basically.”

He added: “We can leave without regret or without wondering what could have been because, we put every bit of quality and what we had into it.”

Craig Goodwin said it was a special thing to be a part of as an Australian.

“I think it is pretty easy to describe it as probably the best sporting moment of my life,” he said.

“I look back at it with so many fond memories, just being able to achieve what we did and it being the most successful World Cup campaign that Australia's had. So, to be a part of that was special.”

Off the pitch

Of course, we all know about Australia’s strong showing on the field, but the players also look back on their time in the camp as a special period.

In fact, some of the players attribute their success to the world class facilities and top environment created for them in Qatar. And well, from all reports they had their fair share of fun too…

Thomas Deng said: “Qatar was unreal, we had a really good setup.”

That setup was the Aspire Academy, which was far enough away from the city to feel secluded but was close enough to the stadiums which made it the perfect place.

Socceroos superstar Tim Cahill helped Australia settle in at Aspire, as he worked as the academy's chief sports officer at the time. He was also very helpful behind the scenes at the World Cup, both with the players and staff.

Deng added: “Big thanks has to go to Timmy (Cahill) with the Aspire Academy. Everyone had their own rooms and walking into the facility, it felt like home.

“We had the cafe set up, which was really good, it was a nice social room, and you could communicate and talk to different people.

“But there was a lot of banners and pictures of former Socceroo players. I think it helped us to prepare and get ready for the games.”

Cameron Devlin agreed. He said: “Our base camp there in Doha was unreal and just chatting to people like Timmy and getting his insight on the game was just unbelievable.”

Cammy Devlin on meeting Tim Cahill


But there was more than just training that filled the days in Doha, as cult hero Jason Cummings made clear.

“Training was good, but you know, we had fun playing table tennis and stuff like that and just spending time with each other,” he said.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing as Garang Kuol and Cummings had a disagreement over the air conditioning in their room.

Cummings said: “He liked being nice and cozy, but I loved the aircon. So, since I'm older, I’d just blast the aircon in the room and I’d come in and he would have a wooly hat on, his jumper and go to sleep with gloves and everything!

“But he brought a big bag of sweets into the room, he had a lot of sweeties, so he was good for that.”

In another room, Harry Souttar and Riley McGree were watching the film Project X. We’re glad they didn’t get any inspiration from that.

“We we're watching a movie together in a room at like midnight and it was like we just got through the World Cup group stages and now we're sitting here watching Project X, it was it was crazy,” Souttar said.

Jason Cummings: The hair(cut) of the dog


Embodying the Socceroo spirit

Yes, they had fun, yes, they performed over what was expected from them, but most importantly the group of players who represented Australia at the Qatar World Cup did their country proud.

The 23 players embodied what it meant to be a Socceroo both on and off the pitch, the whole time they were in Qatar.

That stems from Graham Arnold who has shown in his time as Head Coach that he genuinely cares about his players.

Between him and the staff, they built a strong relationship with the squad and extended that to the families of the players.

That, mixed in with the historical traits that are associated with Australian football like toughness, togetherness and spirit (to name just a few), all contributed to the success of the Socceroos in Qatar.

Youngster Marco Tilio agreed with that sentiment too. He said: “The biggest thing I think we have in this team is everyone's so together and we all lift each other.

“I think that was really important in the World Cup campaign, for me, just to be involved and play my small role in training or doing things off the field was good.”

And Deng added: “It didn’t matter whether you were backed into a wall, for us it was always believe in one another, and just try your best to perform, which we did at that world stage.”

You add the performances on the pitch to the memorable experiences off it and it all makes for one hell of journey for this group of players.

To wrap it all up, the one and only ‘Cumdog’ said: “It was like a dream, the best experience in my life.

“To be a part of that was unbelievable and I enjoyed every moment of it and yeah, it was just amazing.”

Thank you again, Australia!