Socceroo great Tim Cahill says the magnitude of Australia's World Cup qualification will still be sinking for Graham Arnold and his players.
Socceroos legend Tim Cahill believes the magnitude of Australia's World Cup play-off shootout win will only just be sinking in for Graham Arnold's team.
SOCCEROOS WORLD CUP QUALIFICATION
- Australia needed to beat Peru in the inter-continental play-off to qualify for the World Cup.
- The match went down to sudden-death penalties, after 120 minutes of goalless play.
- It concluded a 1008 day, 20 match journey for qualification for Qatar.
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Australia's squad is returning home from Qatar having qualified for a fifth-straight World Cup after back-to-back play-off wins over the United Arab Emirates and Peru.
Cahill was in the stands at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium for both matches with the win on penalties over the more-fancied Peruvians bringing back his own memories of Australia's 2005 shootout win over Uruguay in Sydney.
The Socceroos' all-time World Cup appearance record holder said the challenge now would be for players to make sure they are doing all they can to be selected in Arnold's squad for November's finals.
"There's no guarantee that you'll be picked," Cahill told the Australian Associated Press.
"I've played in four World Cups, but injuries, form - there's a lot to think about.
"They're the elements that they wouldn't have been thinking about last night.
"The first thing that I thought about after 2005 is how am I going to get on the plane? My first World Cup. How am I going to stay fit? I need to play well when I get back to Everton.
"Same every World Cup. I don't think that would have been their first thought walking off that pitch.
"That would have been relief and also elation but I think it's going to hit when they go back to their clubs and they have to make sure that they can get themselves on that plane."
#OnThisDay in 2006, @Tim_Cahill scored the first ever @Socceroos goal at the #FIFAWorldCup. âš½ï¸â›³ï¸🥊— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) June 12, 2022
On Monday night in Qatar / Tuesday morning in Australia, it all comes down to one final match: 🇦🇺 v 🇵🇪pic.twitter.com/9wY8Xcx3Ya
Cahill, a Qatar 2022 ambassador and the chief sports officer of the government-funded Aspire Academy football school, was a regular visitor to Australia's camp during their play-off campaign, talking to the group before both matches and providing mentorship to players.
"It's great for me to give my expertise but at the same time I'm a fan," he said.
"I'm not someone that's part of the Australian national team set-up.
"They have their staff, they have their federation, and this was the 11th hour.
"We had to put everything we could together as a unit to make sure that anyone that could support the national team at this moment in time, to give one per cent to make us better or improved, then in the end everyone's played a massive part."
Cahill was also impressed by the manner of Australia's qualification saying the Socceroos had won the tactical battle over an under-prepared Peru team.
"The Australians, they looked physically (better) all over the park," Cahill said.
"We were strong. We looked like we could win our battles ... over 120 minutes."
He also hailed Arnold's decision to bring on Andrew Redmayne for Maty Ryan in the dying minutes of the game, with the Sydney FC shotstopper going on to make the decisive save in the shootout to become an instant national hero.
"When it comes to the penalties, it's a cruel game," Cahill said.
"It could have went either way, especially after the first penalty.
"Redmayne, tactically, Arnie made the decision. It was a masterstroke.
"I really think for the whole game overall, we deserved it. We were the better team."
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