Like every Socceroo fan, I’m feeling excited and anxious in equal measure as we countdown the hours.
The euphoria of qualifying a year ago, the trauma of a coaching change and the huge challenge presented by our World Cup draw six months back have added plenty of different emotions to the journey. Now the waiting is over. The Socceroos opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is upon us.
It’s an enormous moment for our sporting nation. Australians love to see our finest athletes take on the world’s best. That’s exactly what the Socceroos will do, starting in Cuiaba against Chile.
Having spent time with the squad in the build up, I know that this team is full of the best qualities found in the Australian character – fearless, bold, energetic, confident and ready to take on anyone.
In this regard, Ange Postecoglou has performed exceptionally well. In just eight months, he’s built a new team and revived the culture drawn from the Socceroo DNA that goes back decades.
Ange has enticed the football community and the nation to join the mission. He’s explained his strategy and has delivered what he promised in really difficult circumstances.
We now have a young, exciting team that can surprise in Brazil and arrive in top shape for the AFC Asian Cup next year.
If we step back for a moment and look at the broad sweep of history, we know that the Socceroos have played an integral role in nation building, especially in the post-war years. That role continues to this day.
Within Australia, the Socceroos reflect the diversity of our people in a way no other sport can. Outside Australia, the Socceroos are helping define our place in the world and our relationship with Asia and beyond.
The billions of people who will watch the FIFA World Cup over the coming weeks will form an instant view of what Australia stands for, based on how the Socceroos represent us. They will do us proud.
I don’t mean to add to the weight of expectation on the players. It’s there anyway. It’s a World Cup and participation brings pressure for every nation.
Yes, the results matter. Let’s not mince our words. We’re not here just to make a good impression. Ange has said over and over that he hates to lose. Like every fan, I want the team to win every game.
This Socceroo team is brand new and we are full of hope. The Socceroos belong to the people and have the ability to unite the nation.
That’s the good news. The dose of realism comes every time we consider the pedigree of Spain, the Netherlands and Chile, but that’s what a World Cup is all about. Around the football world, no one gives us a chance, but that’s the way we like it. Adversity brings out the best in Australians.
The waiting is over, but the story of this Socceroo generation has just begun.
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