GOALMAKER Mark Bresciano has revealed how self-belief and calm heads sent Australia to Brazil 2014 - despite being surprised by how good Iraq turned out to be.
Bresciano helped make it three World Cups in a row for the Socceroos with a beautiful ball into the box for Josh Kennedy to head home in the dying minutes of last night's crucial clash.
Despite time running out for the Socceroos - and at that stage a win being vital to secure their spot in Brazil - Bresciano said the players on the pitch kept their cool...and kept trying.
"We all knew the clock was ticking and there wasn't many minutes left," he said. "The most important thing internally for us was that we kept saying to each: 'It's going to come, it's going to come...'
"You know, we still believed in ourselves that we could do it. It's important when you're playing on the park and you're not panicking. No-one went through the panic stages and we kept our calm.
"We were still trying to play our football and it came in the 85th minute. We have to give credit to the players who were playing tonight."
In a revealing chat with au.fourfourtwo.com after the game, he admitted it was far harder than anyone had been expecting - both against Iraq...and all the way along the road to Rio.
"It's been a difficult campaign for a lot of us, with results not going our way and qualifying in the last seconds like we did tonight," he said.
"But I guess all the hard work's paid off and the team got together at the right time. We got through these last three games against Japan, Jordan and Iraq with great performances.
"I think we had to prove ourselves, more than anything. We do have the ability in the team, we have the experience, we have the youth, and we had the depth as well.
"We've seen in the previous games that those players who come off the bench, they change the game so we can rely on them.
"The main thing was to prove ourselves, we are a good nation - and we should qualify for these World Cups."
He admitted the young Iraqi side they faced last night - including a 17 year old among other teenagers - had almost confounded the Socceroos.
Having already been eliminated from any chance of making it to the World Cup, the Iraqis had suffered retirements and late withdrawals, forcing a raw side to be fielded at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.
"We didn't expect it to be this difficult with their circumstances," Bresciano said. "They played very well and put us under a lot of pressure.
"They had nothing to play for but they gave us a very good game and we could only break them down in the very last minute.
"They had some good combinations and they have some good players as well. The way they kept positions - they weren't scared to play. We weren't expecting them to play the way they did.
"They played out from the back, they looked comfortable on the ball We found it hard to go out and press them. They moved the ball well and got in good positions."
After Kennedy's goal and the World Cup spot now almost secure, the Socceroos were determined not to let it slip away like so many times in the pre-2005 past.
"There was only minutes to go so we still had to be careful," said Bresciano. "That's when we tried to hold the fort and waste time a little bit as much as we can - but they did look dangerous whenever they came upfront.
"They almost scored in the last minute so it's all credit to Iraq."
As one of the veterans of the Australian side, this is 33-year old Bresciano's third successful qualification campaign - but the magic never wears off.
He added: "This is just like the other ones - it's just as exciting as the other two previously."