Australia has made it to their fifth ever football World Cup after defeating Honduras 3-1 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney last night.
The two sides drew 0-0 in the first leg of the qualifying tie against the Honduras in San Pedro Sula, so the Socceroos clinched a spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia courtesy of the return leg triumph.
It is reportedly the longest qualification campaign any team has had to endure on its way to the WC, taking 22 games over 29 months and 250,000 kilometres.
Ange Postecoglou’s men now make up one of the 32 countries set to vie for one of the most prestigious sporting trophies on the planet.
An incredible feat considering football mad nations like Italy, the Netherlands and Chile missed out.
With the scoreline locked at 0-0 at half-time pressure was mounting on Australia, but in the 54th minute skipper Mile Jedinak stepped up and watched his free-kick deflect off an opposition player to career into the back of the net.
Twenty minutes later, Australia was awarded a penalty and Jedinak coolly curled his shot into the bottom left corner, sending the 77,000-strong crowd into raptures.
A second penalty capped off the perfect night for the Sydney-raised defender, whose hat-trick put the result beyond doubt.
Before 2006, the Socceroos had only ever qualified for the WC once back in 1974. But a golden generation of footballers including Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Lucas Neill and Mark Schwarzer brought us back to the biggest stage, and we haven’t failed to qualify for a finals since.
Tim Cahill wants miles in the legs before Russia
Tim Cahill (38) is one of the last remaining stars from that halcyon era, he has scored in all three world cups he has played in.
This morning, the former Everton talisman posted on Twitter: “I’ll be doing everything I can like the rest of the lads to make it to RUSSIA”.
Morning after an amazing night. To the team,staff,my family and the fans THANKS SO MUCH FOR SUPPORTING OUR JOURNEY 🙌🏽💙🇦🇺🌍🏆 another World Cup on the Horizon. I’ll be doing everything I can like the rest of the lads to make it to RUSSIA 🇷🇺 and make it 4 World Cups 🌍🏆⚽️ pic.twitter.com/TyzDtic85X
— TIM CAHILL (@Tim_Cahill) November 15, 2017
And while he has arguably been the difference in the final stages of this campaign, he could not confirm whether he would make himself available for the WC in June next year.
“I’ve got to make some big decisions on the level of where I’m playing at and what I’m going to do,” Cahill said. “I need game time.”
I’ve got to make some big decisions on the level of where I’m playing at and what I’m going to do.
Former teammate John Aloisi suggests Cahill is looking to move from Melbourne City in the A-League where he he only played 61 minutes this season.
“I found it very interesting. He virtually said if he doesn’t get game time he’s off, he’s away from Melbourne City,” Aloisi said.
“Because he wants to go to the World Cup and he knows he needs to play regular football to get there. I was surprised because there must be something behind it for him to make that comment.
Ange Postecoglou refuses to decide his future
Meanwhile, there is speculation coach Ange Postecoglou will step down prior to the WC, saying the criticism aimed his way throughout his tenure has taken its toll.
“I’m going to enjoy tonight. I owe it to myself, I owe it to my wife, my kids,” Postecoglou said. “I’m pretty thick-skinned but they’ve had to endure a lot.
“I’ll sit down with the powers-that-be over the next few days and we’ll discuss everything, bring it to a head and make a decision.”
Reports emerged after the Socceroos defeated Syria in October that he was looking at club options, but the manager who took Australia to the 2014 WC and won the Asian Cup in 2015, has refused to publicly decide his future.