Qantas Socceroos head coach Holger Osieck said his team deserved plenty of credit after coming back from a goal down to defeat Iraq 2-1 in Australia’s crucial World Cup qualifier in Doha.
The Qantas Socceroos were far from their best against Iraq and were on the back foot after Abdul Zahra gave the hosts the lead.
But Australia came back through late goals from Tim Cahill and Archie Thompson to earn a hard-fought three points, taking them to second spot in Group B, ahead of Oman on goal difference.
Osieck said he was proud of his team’s work rate and character, singling out goalscorer Archie Thompson as an important member of the squad.
“The boys worked hard,” Osieck said. “The played an excellent game. Iraq had one opportunity and they scored from it and then you are on the back foot again.
“So it was very fortunate that the two guys who came on made an impact because they had fresh legs. I know their quality, and I am happy in particular for Archie. He’s such a great guy, you should see him in training how he works and how he commits himself to the cause and I’m happy to have him around.
“They deserve full credit for that. They really persevered and didn’t let themselves down, although you could have had the impression that luck could have left us again. But the boys forced the luck and they deserved the win for their great effort.”
Thompson could hide his joy after scoring arguably one of Australia’s most important goals for some time, and said the result put paid to some of the criticism the this current Australia squad were past it.
“Who keeps telling me I’m old?” Thompson said. “Who keeps telling me I shouldn’t be in the Socceroos? Who keeps telling us old boys we shouldn’t be part of the Socceroos?
“What helps players is support, and all we hear is, ‘oh he’s too old’ or this and that. But the players try to give everything we can for this country. That’s the pride and spirit we’ve always had. We missed it in the last game but we’ve shown it tonight.
“Maybe we’ve been lucky but hopefully this will shut a few mouths and put us back on track. We’ve really got to enjoy this, to win this game coming back from a goal down. I can’t stop smiling.
Osieck echoed that relief and admitted he could now look forward to Australia’s home games with a renewed sense of confidence.
“Now we don’t have to travel to that area again ... this is the best for me because now we are on home soil; we play in front of a home crowd. We are back on track, the home games means we are now in position where we can get though on our own and are not dependent on anybody else.
"Now I’m going to have a nice beer!”