The Socceroos are on their way back to Australia after concluding their FIFA World Cup™ campaign.
Despite three excellent performances against France, Denmark and Peru, the Socceroos were unable to secure their passage to the Round of 16 - although there were plenty of highlights and memorable moments made in Russia that are sure to be cherished by the Australian public in the years to come.
With the dust now settling around Australia's tournament exit, attention now turns toward the Graham Arnold era and the Socceroos' defence of their Asian Cup crown, which begins in little over six month's time.
But before looking ahead to the future, lets look back at the best performers on the pitch in Russia...
TRENT SAINSBURY AND MARK MILLIGAN
Not many would have envisaged a centre-half partnership of Trent Sainsbury and Mark Milligan nullifying the attacking talents of France, Denmark and Peru when Australia were drawn in Group C back in December 2017.
But the unlikely combination of Sainsbury and Milligan proved to be the foundation of the Socceroos' admirable campaign in Russia.
The pair started and completed all 270 minutes together, and have now played the last five Socceroos matches at the heart of defence.
Sainsbury's performance at the tournament proved to be a long-awaited moment of redemption for the former Central Coast Mariner, who missed the 2014 tournament through injury.
The 26-year-old's highlight arrived in the Socceroos' Group C opener against France, in which Sainsbury's superb show of last-ditch desperation and aggressiveness won plaudits around the world.
The success of both Sainsbury and Milligan as a partnership arrived through their ability to marry relentless defensive grit with quick, faultless distribution.
A midfielder by trade, Milligan's move into the back-line aided this transition seamlessly, and the former Melbourne Victory man was not only a warrior-like presence at the back but often sparked the Socceroos best attacking spells from the middle third.
Josh Risdon arrived into the FIFA World Cup™ as one of the Socceroos' most inexperienced players, but he might later reflect on this tournament as a genuine coming of age.
The Western Sydney Wanderers man was a tireless presence on the right flank and his positive energy and willingness to drive deep into the final third provided the Socceroos with several moments of threat.
His ability to consistently overlap with Mathew Leckie down Australia's right side was matched with a defensive diligence that ensured the Socceroos were never overrun down the right channel.
Risdon won more tackles (9) and completed more successful dribbles (4) than any of the right backs in Group C with only Peruvian flyer Advíncula offering a better attacking contribution throughout the Group stage.
The youngest player at the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ was only on the pitch for a combined hour across his three substitute appearances, but what an important 60 minutes it could be for the fledgling career of Daniel Arzani.
The 19-year-old live-wire vindicated the hype that surrounded him during the build-up to the tournament, and offered the best indication yet that the Socceroos have a potential star in their arsenal after outstanding cameos against France, Denmark and Peru.
Prior to the Socceroos' 2-0 defeat to the South Americans, Arzani had created a goalscoring chance every nine minutes and 20 seconds, such was the impact of the Melbourne City forward, who proved to be a match-changing injection whenever summoned by Bert van Marwijk.
The highlight of Arzani's tournament was his 22-minute spell against Denmark, in which the forward mesmerised a tiring Danish defence, laid on two goal-scoring opportunities and nearly curled home a later winner himself.
The Socceroos' skipper may have been a late entry in pre-tournament camp but when he arrived on the FIFA World Cup™ stage, Jedinak quashed any doubts over his value to the Australian cause.
Stationed next to the also-excellent Aaron Mooy at the base of the Socceroos midfield, it was another no-nonsense tournament display from the 33-year-old, who lead from the front as always and shielded the Australian rearguard with usual aplomb.
Jedinak has scored the last five Socceroos' goals in competitive matches, and added two more clinically-dispatched penalties to his faultless record from the spot, restoring parity for Australia against France and ending Kasper Schmeichel's 571-minute unbeaten streak against Denmark.
The Aston Villa man has now slotted away all 16 penalties he's attempted in his career, and he will be hard pressed to find many as burdensome or high-stakes as his efforts from 12 yards against France and Denmark.
It means that Jedinak has now accounted for Australia's last three FIFA World Cup™ goals, and finishes as the top goalscorer in Group C.
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