The power of one
Whilst time ebbed away in the Socceroos' final FIFA World Cup qualifier, it felt like we would never get that one moment that would take Australia to Brazil.
The power of one. One time and place, one opportunity. One goal.
Whilst time ebbed away in theSocceroos' final FIFA World Cup qualifier against Iraq in Sydney, it felt like such a moment was slipping away.
As Josh Kennedy rose unchallenged in the penalty area to meet Mark Bresciano's perfectly weighted cross, it was as though time and space had converged and collapsed in on itself.
When he met it sweetly to power it home past Iraqi goalkeeper Noor Sabri the release of energy inside Stadium Australia and in front of TV screens across the country could only be measured in megatons.
Australia are going to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
A third successive FIFA World Cup finals for the Socceroos is a remarkable achievement. Australian football now rightly sits at the game's big table.
At home, qualification will do wonders in assisting to build on the recent success of the Hyundai A League.
With Australia hosting the 2015 AFC Asian Cup a little more than six months later, football has an unparalleled opportunity to become what it always promised to be, Australia's game of choice.
Last night, Iraq were tough, streetwise, resilient, talented and unrelenting.
This proud footballing nation has not seen its national team on home soil for more than a decade due to the devastating conflict that has dogged the country.
Eliminated from World Cup qualification, a goal behind with nothing to play for in a strange foreign land, the sight of these young Iraqis pouring forward looking for a late equaliser was awe inspiring.
This was a very different journey to the World Cup for the Socceroos.
In 2005 on that night in Sydney, Australia said goodbye to life as a football outcast.
By the time the mission to South Africa arrived in 2010, the Socceroos negotiated qualification with a minimum of fuss but faced a rude awakening in the opening game of the tournament in Durban against a rampaging Germany.
This time around, the Socceroos found the path to Brazil 2014 was a gravel road.
Beaten away from home in Amman by Jordan in June 2012, the Socceroos then scrambled to recover from going behind against Iraq in Doha to win. How important does that late Archie Thompson winner look now?
The listless performance in a 2-2 draw against Oman in Sydney in March was a timely reminder that presumption is the enemy of success. Osiek's men were waiting for it rather than making it happen.
Lessons were learnt as footballing mortality loomed up on the horizon for the likes of Mark Schwarzer, Tim Cahill, Mark Bresciano and Lucas Neill. A sense of urgency returned as these veterans galvanized a crop of younger players who seemed to be riddled by self doubt.
More talented Socceroos teams have tried and failed to reach football's Mecca - Terry Venables class of '97 for instance - but this is a team that found a way to utilise its strengths, minimize the risks and play with conviction.
For the coach, Holger Osieck, last night was dramatic as it was sweet.
Withdrawing Tim Cahill late in the game was met with incredulity in the stands and indignation from a player who had always delivered when called upon and felt he'd earned the right to do so again.
That his replacement Josh Kennedy provided the magic moment that decided the contest was vindication.
Now, if given the opportunity, Osieck needs to dream it all up again.
This team needs reconditioning and reinforcing if its to be more than just an accidental tourist next year.
Qualifying should never be enough.
Just for today though, it surely is.
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