Australia’s Socceroos, with a world ranking of No. 42, secured qualification for a fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup™ on Tuesday morning (AEST), recording a historic victory 5-4 over world-ranked No. 22, Peru, in a dramatic penalty shootout at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
After a qualification campaign that stretched a whopping 1,008 days and saw Australia’s senior men’s national football team play just four of its twenty qualification matches on home soil, Graham Arnold’s side put in an inspiring and courageous performance in Qatar’s capital to book the penultimate berth on offer at this year’s FIFA World Cup™.
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 2022TM, with Australia now set to take on reigning World Champions France, Tunisia, and Denmark in Group D in November.
An emotional Socceroos Head Coach Graham Arnold heralded the triumph as a milestone moment for football in Australia and one that will forever sit alongside the inspiring achievements of Australia’s FIFA World Cup™ and qualifying squads from 1974, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018.
“I am so proud of the players, staff, and everyone who has been involved in our campaign over the past four years,” Arnold said. “Throughout COVID, players and staff had to live away from their families for weeks and sometimes months on end to help our nation achieve today’s result and our goal of qualification for a fifth straight FIFA World Cup™.”
“In many of our camps, the players and staff were confined largely to their hotel rooms when they weren’t at the training pitch or match stadium. The dedication and sacrifice that has gone into this campaign from so many people has been immense, and as coach of Australia I am so thrilled that millions of people across our country will today be talking about the Socceroos – a team that represents modern-day Australia through its diversity and multiculturalism and unites the nation.”
Football Australia Chair, Mr Chris Nikou, congratulated Arnold and the team on qualification to Qatar 2022 and labelled the achievement as a superb accomplishment under trying circumstances.
“Everyone involved in Australian football will today be overjoyed with the achievement of our team to qualify for a fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup™,” Nikou said. “It has been a long journey for this group – a total of 48 players contributed on the field since the cycle kicked off in Kuwait City in September 2019.”
“COVID threw many challenges at our team and organisation throughout this cycle, but as Chair of Football Australia I couldn’t be prouder of the way that our people – from players to coaches, support staff, administrators, and executives – all rose to the challenge to help Australia arrive at this landmark day.”
Football Australia Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson, was in Doha for the play-off. He said Australia’s qualification for Qatar 2022 was a major boost for the sport, providing the Australian public with more elite football content to be excited about and to engage with over the next 12 months.
“With qualification for Qatar 2022 now secured, we will enter a period of national team football the likes of which Australia has never experienced before,” Johnson said. “From celebrating our men’s national team’s 100th birthday on home soil in September, to taking on the world’s best in Qatar at the end of the year, and co-hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ with New Zealand in 2023 – the next year will be a special time for the game and one that all Australian football fans, and the broader public and media, ought to be excited about.”
“To ‘Arnie’ (Graham Arnold), the players, and staff – congratulations on your unwavering commitment and drive to achieve this goal. The mission to reach Qatar 2022 has been accomplished and the entire nation will join you in celebrating this great achievement. Personally, I am so happy that Arnie, after great personal sacrifice, can share in this special moment together with his family.
"Now he, and the team he has led, have written a new chapter for the game and our collective attention and efforts will turn to supporting the Socceroos’ campaign in Qatar come November 2022,” concluded Johnson.
Football Australia also acknowledges the media that travelled to Qatar to cover the Socceroos’ FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ AFC and Intercontinental matches this month. Chiefly, Football Australia recognises Network 10 for its daily coverage of the team over the past two weeks, and via its match broadcasts. Additionally, Football Australia recognises SBS, AAP, and the ABC for sending reporters and/or crews to Qatar to cover these important matches in Australian sporting history.