With the Socceroos just a couple of weeks away from beginning their quest to win the 2015 Asian Cup, we look back at the previous edition of Asia's showpiece event.
The Socceroos went into the 2011 Asian Cup full of hope with a new manager, some exciting young faces and an experienced group of players desperate to capture some silverware before exiting the international stage.
And they produce a tournament full of excitement, drama and goals but were unlucky to fall just short at the final hurdle.
Here’s a look back at Australia’s thrilling journey at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar.
Socceroos give India curry
Holger Osieck’s side made the perfect start to the tournament winning 4-0 against an India outfit returning to their first international tournament in 27 years.
Tim Cahill opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a neat finish from Brett Emerton’s cross with further goals from Harry Kewell and Brett Holman giving the Aussies a comfortable 3-0 lead at the break.
Cahill completed the rout midway through the second half, leaping high to head home powerfully from a Luke Wilkshire free kick as the Socceroos sent a warning to the rest of the competition with an emphatic first-up showing.
All square at the Al Gharafa
The group’s two super-powers met in game two with the winner likely to grab the vital top spot in the standings for the knockout phase.
What ensued was an enthralling 90 minutes which ebbed and flowed but the sides Australia and Korea Republic couldn’t be separated in a riveting 1-1 draw at the Al Gharafa stadium.
The Koreans went to the break in front thanks to Koo Ja-Cheol’s strike before Mile Jedinak - now skipper of the national team - grabbed his first international goal on 62 minutes to salvage a point and leave everything up for grabs heading into the final group game.
Progression sealed with narrow win
Needing only a draw to advance to the quarter-finals, the Socceroos survived some tense moments to get the job done with a well-deserved 1-0 win over Bahrain.
Jedinak made it two goals in two games with a stunning long-range effort eight minutes before half-time at the Al Sadd Stadium.
With Korea only managing a 4-1 win over India in their final match, Osieck’s troops advanced to the last eight as winners of Group C.
Kewell delivers at the death
Defending Asian Cup champions Iraq awaited the Socceroos in the quarters and what ensued was a tight and tense 120 minutes.
In a cagey contest devoid of too many clear cut chances, the Socceroos had the best of the play but had Mark Schwarzer to thank for avoiding defeat with a couple of vital saves towards the end of normal time.
Jedinak and Scott McDonald both had fantastic opportunities to win it in extra-time only to miss the target with headers.
But just as it looked like the match would head to a dreaded penalty shoot-out, Harry Kewell bobbed up to clinically head home Matt McKay’s dinked cross with less than three minutes left.
Six of the best in the semi
The impressive Uzbekistan stood between the Socceroos and a spot in their maiden AFC Asian Cup final but the Aussies flexed their muscles in an emphatic 6-0 rout.
There was no signs of fatigue from a gruellng extra-time quarter-final win as Osieck’s side played with swagger and intensity from the outset, with goals to Kewell (5th minute) and Sasa Ognenovski (34th) making it 2-0 at the break.
The Socceroos didn’t take their foot off the throat in the second half as further goals to David Carney (64th), Brett Emerton (73rd), Carl Valeri (82nd) and Robbie Kruse (83rd) completed a golden night - it set up a blockbuster final against Japan.
Final heartbreak for brave Socceroos
Fierce rivals Japan stood between Australia and their first major senior trophy and despite dominating much of the game and playing with tremendous attacking verve and fluency, the Socceroos would ultimately fall just short.
An epic battle was decided early in the second half of extra-time, when substitute Tadanari Lee – who had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes - volleyed home a cross from Yuto Nagatomo in the 109th minute of a scintillating match.
Lee found himself unmarked and with the sort of time and space he could only have dreamed of to measure a perfect textbook volley that gave Mark Schwarzer no chance.
The stunning strike was the difference between the sides as Japan won a record fourth Asian Cup title while the Socceroos’ golden generation were left with nothing but the pride of a sensational tournament which captured the imagination of the Australian public.
The question now is, what will happen in 2015 as we host this incredible event?
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