It’s said that the body’s cells are replaced every ten years, but the Socceroos haven’t won a match in the World Cup for 12 years.
But there are special neurons that haven’t been replaced, and since 2010, deep in the national psyche, they’ve been flickering and sparking every four years, and what it’s like to taste victory at the World Cup. A faint response is spreading to the football world. A faithful.
Those ripples turned into waves of crushing joy when Australia beat Tunisia 1-0 in Qatar on Saturday night.
After losing to France, Graham Arnold made only one change, leading to widespread doubts about the starting line-up before the game.
And the feeling that the country was watching in primetime was palpable.
The crowd was a sea of partisan Tunisians, completely disgusted by the Socceroos away strip, kits that drew similar howls in support of their team or from posters online.
Much like their match against Denmark, Tunisia started off a physical-filled match, barging, thumping and breaking into contention when the Australian started flogging with a cross.
Cross after cross and you can aim relatively freely most of the time, but you can’t find your target.
Then a single cross shot from Craig Goodwin’s boot deflected off the Tunisian defender with the least assist potential, but Mitchell Duke with a scalpel to the head showed all the precision and dexterity of the surgeon. I flexed and contorted my neck muscles.
The ball snuggled into the corner and Australia scored first in Qatar once again.
Joyful soccer loose followers recalled how quickly and brutally France fought back after conceding in their first match, and how quickly that joy punctured.
There was some concern that the team would lose its grip after just 22 minutes.
Harry Suter of Man Mountain built the first of what would eventually become so many giant blocks.
Australia saw half and in fact only got caught by Tunisia on the counter a few times.
A well-deserved halftime lead, the confidence to control the contest, and…was it a sense of pride?
Yet that pride quickly turned to fear. That is, his second 45 minutes of regulation time and the truly eternal stoppage time that has become a hallmark of the Qatar World Cup.
Tunisia started the second half with renewed vigor, with the Hounds of Defeat snapping right behind them and the Socceroos retreating slightly towards their own goal.
Calls began to be heard for replacements that could allow Australia to regain momentum in attack, most specifically naming Azidin Furustic and Graham Arnold seemingly heeded the call. was.
Harry Suter, who basically played two games in elite football last year, was a brick wall.
Throwing themselves in front of the shot and watching the Tunisian attacker race like a possessed iron golem to block a counterattack, the Stoke City defender was absolutely the best.
Matthew Leckie had a chance inches away from the conversion, but the demeanor in the second half was set. This his one-goal lead seemed like all the Socceroos had to hold onto awkwardly until the final whistle.
As the minutes ticked away and the Tunisian launched the kick, the passing moment was pure pain for Suckerloo’s followers.
Finally, after a very conservative six-minute break, the closing whistle blew and the public rejoiced.
Federation Square in Melbourne is once again in chaos.
Australian sports stars cheered along with us all.
Australia survives this World Cup.
Australia won this World Cup.
The decade in the wilderness is over.