What a year 2022 was for our Subway Socceroos!
At times it was an emotional rollercoaster, but we all stuck along for the incredible ride which ended in recording our most successful appearance to date at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
For the success experienced on the field in 2022, it fittingly coincided with our Centenary Celebrations, as we recognised 100 years of the Australia national team.
So without further ado here is a recap of our best moments on and off the field in the year that was, 2022.
Beginning the year with a bang
Australia played its first game in Melbourne since September 2017 when it hosted Vietnam in a FIFA World Cup 2022™ qualifier. The Subway Socceroos recorded a 4-0 win thanks to a dominant display. Jamie Maclaren opened proceedings with a header before Tom Rogic doubled the advantage on the stroke of half-time with a neat one-on-one attempt. Craig Goodwin and Riley McGree then netted their first goals for their country with a pair of well-taken finishes.
Do-or-die win over United Arab Emirates
With Australia failing to automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, the Subway Socceroos found themselves doing it the hard way. First up a win-or-go-home playoff against fellow Asian Football Confederation (AFC) side the United Arab Emirates. The Aussies advanced to the inter-confederation play-off thanks to a gutsy 2-1 victory with Jackson Irvine and Ajdin Hrustic on target.
Qualifying for the FIFA World Cup
Standing in Australia’s way for a spot in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ in November was South American outfit Peru. The Peruvians defeated the Subway Socceroos 2-0 in Russia four years ago. It was a cagey game with chances few and far between and nothing could separate the two sides after 120 minutes. Graham Arnold then summoned goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne for the penalty shootout, and as they say the rest is history.
The move was a masterstroke as he denied Alex Valera from the spot as Australia qualified for its sixth FIFA World Cup. His iconic penalty save routine which has previously been on display with Sydney FC, where he flails his arms around and moves across the goalline in an attempt to distract the opponent, subsequently garnered the nickname the ‘Grey Wiggle’.
Andrew Redmayne and The Wiggles crossover
Following his penalty shootout heroics against Peru and simultaneously being dubbed the ‘Grey Wiggle’, it was only natural goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne paid a visit to the world-famous, Australian children’s entertainment group, The Wiggles. It was the crossover we all needed as The Wiggles officially inducted him as the ‘Grey Wiggle’, presenting him with a grey Wiggles jersey to replace his grey kit he wore in the shootout to book the Subway Socceroos’ ticket to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The group and Redmayne then hilariously performed a range of songs and dances to cap off the memorable visit.
Garang Kuol: ‘What happened mate?!’
Seventeem-year-old Garang Kuol became the youngest Socceroo since Harry Kewell to be called up by Graham Arnold for the September friendlies against New Zealand. So when the prodigious talent was asked at the squad announcement press conference about beating his older brother Alou Kuol to a Subway Socceroos call-up, he comically replied, ‘“I rang him and I'm just like: ‘What happened, mate?!’.” It induced several laughs from those in attendance, creating a viral moment.
Friendly wins over New Zealand
With the pressure valve released after qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, Australia played a pair of friendlies against New Zealand in the September FIFA Window in Brisbane and Auckland as part of the Subway Socceroos’ centenary celebrations. The Aussies, in their first game in the Queensland capital since 2018, recorded a 1-0 win thanks to Awer Mabil’s strike.
A few days later an experimental Australia side, featuring six debutants defeated the Kiwis at Eden Park with a 2-0 victory courtesy of second-half goals to Mitch Duke and a Jason Cummings penalty on debut.
Garang Kuol becomes youngest Socceroo since Kewell
One of the highlights of the year, was Garang Kuol’s senior international debut. Considered the brightest star to emerge from the A-Leagues in recent memory, the forward appeared as a second-half substitute against New Zealand. In doing so, he became the youngest Socceroo since Harry Kewell way back in 1996. Later in the year, he became the second youngest player after Pele in 1958 to appear in the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup.
Craig Goodwin’s World Cup opener
Craig Goodwin not only stunned Australians but the global football community when he fired the Green and Gold into a shock ninth minute lead against reigning FIFA World Cup champions, France. The Adelaide United skipper sparked incredible scenes of euphoria back home when he finished off some excellent wing play from Mathew Leckie. However, the setback seemed to click Les Bleus into gear, and they ultimately took full control to clinch a 4-1 win.
Irvine in stitches after ‘not a doctor’ response
With an injury cloud hovering over Adjin Hrustic heading into the tournament, respected football and sport journalist Vince Rugari asked Jackson Irvine about the midfielder’s fitness status at a daily press conference leading into the Subway Socceroos’ second group match against Tunisia.
Irvine could not help himself and cracked a wry smile midway during the question before replying in the same way Vince famously remarked to Brian Taylor after an AFL match surrounding the extent of Sydney Swans’ Lance Franklin’s hamstring injury in 2019. Irvine attempted to answer with a straight face before bursting into laughter. He then composed himself to provide an adequate explanation. While Irvine enjoyed the joke at Vince’s expense, he took it in his stride. Well played all round.
Duke header and beating Tunisia
Australia answered the call and bounced back from its opening game defeat with a 1-0 win against Tunisia. Mitch Duke’s excellent header off Craig Goodwin’s deflected cross nestled into the bottom corner. A determined Australia gallantly held on in the second-half to secure its first triumph and first clean sheet at the major tournament since 2010 and 1974 respectively.
Harry Souttar’s perfectly timed challenge
If he had not already, Harry Souttar endeared himself to the whole of the Australian public after that desperate, last-ditch challenge on Taha Yassine Khenissi in the final stages of the match against Tunisia. Defending a slender 1-0 lead, the Tunisian forward was through on goal but before he could pull the trigger to test Mat Ryan, Souttar chased him down and executed a perfectly timed sliding tackle to thwart the danger. It proved one of the defining moments from the Aussie’s campaign.
Leckie’s winner against Denmark
Mathew Leckie produced a moment of individual brilliance to score the solitary goal in a 1-0 victory against Denmark. With Tunisia leading 1-0 over France, Australia needed to collect all three points to advance to the knockout stages. And on the hour mark, Graham Arnold’s side transitioned quickly with Riley McGree releasing Leckie, who still had plenty to do. The 31-year-old dribbled forward at pace, weaving his way towards goal before turning Joakim Mæhle inside out and placed his finish into the bottom corner. Aussies in the stands and at home were overcome with delirium. Once the full-time whistle blew, celebrations proceeded as the Subway Socceroos had achieved what many believed was impossible.
Pushing Argentina all the way
With Australia trailing 2-0, the Aussies had to throw the kitchen sink at the South American powerhouse. Substitute Craig Goodwin halved the deficit courtesy of his half-volley taking a wicked deflection. While Argentina threatened on the counter-attack, Australia had the momentum and almost forced extra-time with chances from Aziz Behich and Garang Kuol.
Scenes back home
The incredible scenes at live sites back in Australia were shown right around the world with fans staying up or waking up in the early hours of the morning to watch their beloved Socceroos. It all started in Melbourne’s Federation Square, which proved the catalyst for subsequent live sites around the country, notably in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth for the Round of 16 clash against Argentina. A sea of limbs and scenes of jubilation erupted every time the Socceroos scored with the power of football uniting and captivating the entire country.