Australia has risen in its stature as a footballing nation after the Socceroos defeated South Korea in a tense, physical match that went to extra-time.
Having booked our tickets in June last year, there was a hope that Australia would at least make it to the Final after the disappointment of zero Socceroo games scheduled in our home city of Canberra. And we weren’t let down!
The atmosphere was intense. As you would expect there were a large number of Socceroo supporters but the South Korean supporters in their resplendent red and their incessant chants were more than conspicuous making up a crowd of over 76,000.
It seemed that we were heading for a nil-all score line at half-time when rising star, Massimo Luongo, shot past the keeper into the corner of the net with seconds to go.
The second half was as intense and perhaps more so for the South Koreans who had to make up for their lapse in defence in the previous half. Plenty of yellow cards were given out as the clock ticked towards desperation for one side and relief for the other.
However the Socceroos, and the overwhelming proportion of the crowd, had to stop the countdown to the end of injury time when Son Heung-min shot the ball past keeper Mathew Ryan for the equaliser about a minute before it would have been all over.
As you would expect there was burst of energy from the South Korean fans as their chants heightened particularly from one-end of the stadium.
The Socceroo fans who had been standing through the last few minutes deflatedly looked around in wonderment and sat back down to ready themselves for extra time.
It can be fair to say that most would have foregone the extra half an hour of entertainment for the win but at the end the Australian supporters had it both ways when Tom Juric amazingly got past two defenders and shot the ball towards the South Korean goal. The keepers deflection followed by no-mistake kick into the net by James Troisi saw the Socceroos one ahead again (2-1).
Tense moments in Australian defence and desperate plays by the South Korean attack failed to change the scoreline and the Australians managed to gain their highest achievement in football on the international stage.
The award ceremony followed unremarkably except for the consistent booing whenever Sepp Blatter was mentioned.
A wonderful result for Australia and (real) Australian football – there is plenty to watch out for as Australia matures as a footballing nation.
Well prepared Socceroos fans leaving for the game