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It was one of those Sydney days yesterday. The type that the tourism authorities (or Ray Gatt or Christine Whyte - in joke) constantly brag about, and the day when all the postcard pictures are taken. Bright blue sky - almost Honduras blue - a few fluffy white clouds waving across the skyline every now and then, a gentle breeze, temperature in the low-to-mid 20s, and very little humidity. Out to the distance, the Pacific Ocean was a calm, deep, dark blue. It was clear it would be a great day.

And it was. First, at 10am, Chief Statistician David Kalisch told the world almost 62% of us said "Yes!". 12 hours later, we were on our way to a fourth successive World Cup. Here are five things about Wednesday. 

1.  A. Fourth. Successive. World. Cup

Seriously. If you had told me on 16 November 2005 that Germany 2006 was to be the first of four, I'm not sure I would have believed you. I certainly would have believed it was possible; I'm not sure I would have believed it was actually going to happen. 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018. Each World Cup we appear in erases the memories of 29 November 1997 (v Iran). And, to be frank, as each successive World Cup campaign gets more and more professional and is better and better resourced, it makes you appreciate even more the work and efforts of Rale Rasic and his 1974 squad. Not that the 2018 campaign was without its ups-and-downs, and quite a few 'nervous nellies' about whether we'd make it. But we did. Well done Ange, the players, the backroom staff. 

Aggregated player ratings from the Football Today team of Sally Freedman, Mike Tuckerman, Pablo Bateson, Tony Tannous and me are:

 Australia v Honduras22 World Cup Qualifiers
# 1Mile JedinakTrent Sainsbury
# 2Trent SainsburyMathew Leckie / Aaron Mooy
# 3Aziz BehichTim Cahill

And after 2018? Who knows where we'll be?

2.  If Les Gelis says you're fit, you're fit

Remember how Mile Jedinak had hardly played any football all season, and we hadn't seen him in the green-and-gold since June? Ange Postecoglou sent the Socceroos Chief Physiotherapist, Les Gelis, to England for one-one-one, specialised treatment in the weeks preceding these two qualifiers. It worked. Les told Ange that Mile was fit to play - and he was right. Mile Jedinak was immense in both games. A hat-trick last night, but even more so in the debilitating conditions in San Pedro Sula where he played the proverbial captain's knock to end all captain's knocks. Well played Jedi. And hats-off to you, Les Gelis. 

3.  Was it the last time we will see Tim Cahill in a competitive match at Stadium Australia?

As soon as he was subbed for Tomi Juric, I sprung to my feet to give him a standing ovation because, Superman though he is, he's not likely to be playing a competitive match in a Socceroos shirt at Stadium Australia again. Ever. It was the end of an era. 

4.  FIFA will be happy

FIFA hasn't been too happy with us much lately (hello Frank and Steve - we know what that's about, don't we?). But they will be happy we qualified. Why? Australians buy many more tickets to the World Cup than Hondurans. There are more of us - 24.1 million compared with 9.1 million - and the per capita GDP is $65,800 in Australia compared with $3,112 in Honduras. At the 2014 World Cup, only six nations bought more tickets to the World Cup than Australians: the host nation Brazil, followed by USA, Argentina, Germany, England and Colombia. And for FIFA, the 2014 World Cup generated $6.3 billion in revenue, 11% of which came from ticket sales.

5.  Sydney transport is the pits

Sydney must be the only modern, wealthy city in the world where it can take 2 hours and 40 minutes to go 31 kilometres. That's less than 200 metres per minute. It is a disgrace. As a result, the game had been going for just on 20 minutes when we arrived. We were not alone. As well as long queues on the roads and getting into the pre-paid car parks, it wasn't much better for train travellers with massive delays because a tree had - somehow, in a virtually no-wind day - fallen on a track. 


Categories: Opinion | Socceroos | World Cup

socceroos, world cup qualifier, #roadtorussia

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