Socceroos can repeat 2006 glory: Sterjovski

Mile Sterjovski knows what it takes to get to the knockout stages of a FIFA World Cup™.

The 39-year-old was there in Germany, 2006 - alongside current squad members Tim Cahill and Mark Milligan - when Guus Hiddink's side prepared to face Croatia in the final match of Group F.

The equation was simple for the Socceroos, who had at that point exceeded expectations at the tournament.

Having claimed a 3-1 win over Japan and gone down 2-0 to Brazil in their previous Group F fixtures, Australia needed to avoid defeat against the Croatians to progress to the Round of 16 for the first time.

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The Wollongong-born attacker started on the right side of midfield that night in Stuttgart, and remembers the occasion well.

A Craig Moore penalty had cancelled out an early free kick from Dario Srna, but Niko Kovac had restored the advantage ten minutes into the second half, and put Croatia on the brink of qualification.

With little over 10 minutes remaining, Harry Kewell popped up at the back post to fire an equaliser past Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa, and secure the Socceroos' ticket to the Round of 16.

Harry Kewell


“I don’t think many people expected too much from us in 2006 and to get the result and go through to the next round was great,” Sterjovski told

 “The atmosphere at the game and after the game was incredible and something that will stay with me forever.

“It was a big occasion, a big game and we needed a result to get through to the next round so it’s no different for the boys tomorrow.”


20 years on from Kewell's strike, the Socceroos find themselves in a situation that harks back to the 2006 tournament in Germany.

This time around, Australia's fate is out of their hands: Bert van Marwijk's side must defeat Peru and hope France beat Denmark in order to stand a chance of a knockout berth.

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But Sterjovski, who is now a Player Advisor to the current Socceroos squad, says Australia have all the ingredients to replicate the success of 2006.

“One thing that’s never changed in the Socceroos' camp is the belief, the team morale.

"The boys are always working together, they all get along really well and it’s great to see that it hasn’t changed through the generations.



"I think that's something that’s going to help us get through."

So what advice can the 39-year-old offer to van Marwijk's men with kick off only hours away?

"My advice would be not to change anything.

"I don’t think they have to do anything extra, just play the way they’ve been playing. The performances have been really good, we’ve been playing some great football and a lot of people have recognised that.

"The only thing that needs to maybe improve is just the final third and just to put away a couple of the chances that we have created."

POLL RESULTS: Fans want two changes for Peru clash

BURNING QUESTIONS: Who will lead the line for Australia?

COVERAGE: You can watch the game LIVE in Australia on SBS and Optus Sport, with coverage starting from 11pm AEST (Tuesday, June 26).

Tune in LIVE on SBS or stream via The World Game website or the 2018 FIFA World Cup app. Click here to find out how to watch LIVE on Optus Sport on your TV, mobile, table or computer.

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