The above picture is of Harry Kewell after the 1997 (2-2) draw to Iran in Melbourne in the World Cup Qualifier for France 1998. Australia had a 1-1 draw in Iran and did not qualify to France 1998 on the away goal rule. Both Iran and Australia ended up 3-3 on aggregate however Iran scored two away goals which sent them to France.
The following qualification campaign play off was against Uruguay. Australia won the first game in Melbourne 1-0 thanks to a Muscat penalty and then Australia lost 3-0 to Uruguay in Montevideo to once again not qualify for the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup.
Australia had not qualified to the World Cup since 1974 and once again ended up having to qualify via a play off with Uruguay. The first game was in Montevideo and Uruguay won 1-0. The second game was played at Stadium Australia and Australia won the game 1-0 and as the aggregate was 1-1 the game went into extra time. Still 1-1 after extra time the game went into a penalty shootout which Australia won 4-2 to make the Germany 2006 World Cup after a 32 year absence.
For the 2010 South Africa World Cup Australia was now in the Asian Confederation and qualified first in the group who had Japan (Qualified 2nd), Bahrain, Qatar and Uzbekistan.
Now for the 2014 Brazil World Cup Australia (24th in the World) will play against Iran (48th in the World) and Iraq (84th in the World). The games will be played at the same stadium that Australia beat Uruguay to qualify for the 2006 Germany World Cup. I can understand the Football Federation using this marketing strategy as it was the greatest Australian Soccer moment. In reality there is no way you can compare Uruguay (4th in the World) to the games that Australia will play. Australia being in Asia has actually made it far more simpler to qualify for the World Cup and has made it difficult to have anybody too excited about the upcoming games. Now you have Brett Emerton offering all sorts of discounts in the hope that the stadium will be full. The reality Brett is there no comparison to the Uruguay game but I wish you all the luck in the world.
The other issue I have with the FFA (Football Federation Australia) is the current administration selection. First we had a Rugby Union man, next an AFL man and now a Rugby League man. These codes are not only learning from the inside how FIFA work but are infiltrating our game with no real benefits to Football Australia. Look at the current mess with the Western Sydney Wanderers from wanting to cover up the Legendary Ray Price Statute at Parramatta Park to bringing the team into the league in a hurry to offset the Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL team.
All the FFA considers is whether there are any ethnic connections to a team. When you look at the current teams that established football in Australia it was only a few that caused issues. One team I can think of that never had any issues would be Marconi in Sydney’s west. Lets look at that team. Marconi have their own Stadium, their own Club, their own training facilities, their own parking. The FFA will say but they have the Italian colours? Italian fans? However when I look at the current A League teams they seem to be very United Kingdom in their fan base which is one of the reasons I have not renewed my Sydney FC membership. I don’t feel in any way part of Sydney FC as they have slowly distanced themselves from my support. Only now that they have competition from the West have they started offering better membership packs and offers.
Once again administrative Football in Australia works on reactive plays and not pro-active plays. FFA you don’t need to fear any of the other football codes. Rugby League, AFL, Union and Cricket will always be the number one sports in Australia. You need to respect these sports and focus only on Football. Legends like Ray Price should be respected as they represent a time when many respected Rugby League and I believe it was the best time for Rugby League before the Super League destroyed the game. No FEAR FFA as football will always BE.