It is what it is. The Socceroos didn’t automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia, after they failed to obliterate Thailand on the score-sheet like many had predicted.
Now, ultimately, if it is to be done, it is to be done the hard way. A home and away play off against Syria is locked in for early October, with a meeting against the 4th placed CONCACAF team the prize for the victor. The winner of that second tie will progress to the big show.
Is this the pathway we envisaged to make the World Cup? Most fans would say absolutely not. Maybe our own expectations have gotten the better of us? Maybe qualifying through Asia isn’t as straightforward as everyone thinks? Whatever the case, this is the wake up call Australian football needed.
So instead of being scared by the thought of these play offs, lets embrace them. These games will have huge interest around the country, reaching those who usually have nothing to do with football. Interest in the Socceroos that has been missing since the Asian Cup triumph in 2015.
Just a few months ago, 95,000 turned up to Argentina vs Brazil at the MCG, with less than 50,000 showing up a few days later for Australia vs Brazil. Doesn’t that say a lot about the position of the national team in the eyes of the Australian public.
But it’s ok. They can change that. The predicament that the Socceroos have left themselves in, gives them the chance to become heroes. The do or die nature of these upcoming contests can turn players who we know have potential, like Mooy, like Rogic, like Leckie into household names all around the country.
So now is the time to get behind the national team, as the road to Russia is much more difficult, but it will make the potential reward that much sweeter.