Road warriors hope journey is not over
IT will have been the longest path any nation has ever taken to the World Cup.
And Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has implored his road warriors not to let the past 29 months of hard work go to waste as they prepare to meet their World Cup destiny at ANZ Stadium tonight.
Postecoglou has declared his entire squad fit and available to start in the second leg of its intercontinental playoff against Honduras, which includes star forward Tim Cahill and key winger Robbie Kruse.
After 32 years of heartbreak preceding its appearance at Germany 2006, Australia has now made three consecutive World Cups for the first time.
Success against the Central Americans tonight will make that four on the bounce, following an arduous 21-game campaign that started with a 2-1 win in Bishkek against Kyrgyzstan on June 16, 2015 — 884 days ago.
And while he says failure to make it to Russia will not be a fatal blow for the sport, Postecoglou said the rewards on offer for success are huge.
“It’s very important because you want to be in the biggest tournament in the world,” Postecoglou said.
“It’s a reward for the whole organisation for all the hard work they’ve been through.
“This has been the longest World Cup campaign taken on by any nation both in the amount of games and kilome- tres travelled, you don’t want all of that to mean nothing.
“For the game, it’s always important that you’re there when the World Cup is played.
“We saw Italy miss out and you realise the impact that has.
“But it doesn’t mean that not qualifying means that the game ceases to exist.’’
Having inspected the ANZ Stadium pitch, Postecoglou said “it’s not as good as it was a month ago” against Syria, but said it would still suit his attacking game plan.