John Aloisi in the World Cup qualifier against Uruguay. Australia defeated Uruguay on penalties to book a finals berth for the first time since 1974
John Aloisi in the World Cup qualifier against Uruguay. Australia defeated Uruguay on penalties to book a finals berth for the first time since 1974

Aloisi reflects on the kick that put Socceroos in World Cup

EARLIER this year Melbourne Heart visited Lismore for a trial match against A-League rivals Brisbane Roar.

Heart boss John Aloisi will always be known for scoring the decisive spot-kick to send Australia to the 2006 World Cup. The kick not only helped Australia qualify for the finals for the first time in more than 30 years, it provided the country with one of its great all-time sporting moments.

Ange Postecoglou's side will discover this Saturday morning who it will face in the group stages of Brazil 2014.

While in Lismore, Aloisi relived his memories on that spot-kick with the Northern Star's STUART TURNER.

 

"IT'S FUNNY - I didn't really have any nerves at that moment. We had been practising penalties in training down at that end, so I was pretty confident of scoring.

"I just remember walking up (to the spot) and thinking, 'just do exactly what you have done in training and you will be going to the World Cup'. Mark (Schwarzer, Socceroos goalkeeper) had already made the saves, so I thought it was one of the moments where it was our time.

"I still get a bit mortified now about the celebration and taking my shirt off. My body wasn't looking that good! It's quite funny looking back on it now, but I think the running around was just part of the emotion of it all. I knew where my family was (in the stadium) and I just wanted to celebrate. Playing in the World Cup was something I had dreamed about, so at that moment you just get lost in the emotion of it all.

"I don't really think about it too much now unless someone brings it up, but it is something that will live with me forever. I certainly don't mind talking about it. It was a nice moment for me and for people who had been following football for so long in this country.

"How will we do in 2014? That is a tough one.

"A lot depends on the group we get in.

"I still think there's a lot of work to do with the squad and working out our best team before the tournament.

"I'm sure we can go to Brazil and give it a good go.

"I think that football is the most-played sport now in Lismore, which is amazing in itself.

"You hope that there are more players coming through who will represent Australia one day.

"Maybe by coming there with the Heart it will encourage players and kids to believe one day they can represent Australia.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT

Australia reached the second round of the 2006 event, losing controversially to Italy. The Socceroos also qualified in 2010, but went out after the group stages. Coach Holger Osieck oversaw the team's qualification to next year's event, but he was sacked earlier this year after disastrous results in friendlies. Ange Postecoglou will lead the team at Brazil 2014.

 

HOW THE WORLD CUP DRAW WORKS

Ange Postecoglou's side, which qualified under his predecessor Holger Osieck, is the lowest ranked of the 32 teams at the World Cup (No 59) and is likely to face some tough opponents in the tournament.

The sides have been seeded and split into four pots. Eight groups will be picked out, featuring one team from each of the pots.

Australia could find itself in the same pool as hosts Brazil or 2010 champions Spain. It could also be drawn with England, who are in the second group of seeds.

The tournament gets started on Thursday, June 12.

Best-case scenario for the Socceroos: Being drawn with the weakest teams in each of the four pots - Switzerland, Algeria and Greece.

Worst-case scenario: A 'Group of Death' with hosts Brazil, the Netherlands and Ghana, which would make qualification for the last 16 an unlikely prospect for the Socceroos.

The draw is scheduled to take place about 2.45am (AEDT) on Saturday morning.



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