We’re Off To Another World Cup

This story was written by Melissa Muscat, proud Sydney FC member.

That’s four consecutive since 2006. And what a privilege and wonderful feeling it is to be joining one of the biggest sporting events on a global stage. It’s hard to imagine what 32 years missing from a World Cup feels like…because that was the reality for the Socceroos before that fateful John Aloisi penalty in November 2005.

Before 2006, the Socceroos last appearance at a World Cup was in Germany in 1974. I was fortunate to be at their next World Cup appearance ironically also in Germany. What a time to be alive! That was the first time I realised how proud I was to be an Aussie. Every second person in the streets of Munich would greet anyone in a Socceroos jersey with ‘Hey Aussie’ and ‘There’s a Kangaroo!’. Everyone who wasn’t Australian wanted a photo with whoever was in the green and gold jersey. I guess it was a big deal for our nation to be involved in the world’s biggest sporting event after it had been so long since we had last made an appearance.

Hearing the crowd sing Land Down Under after the full time whistle last Wednesday night against Honduras gave me goosebumps. It took me back to the 2006 game in Stuttgart against Croatia where we drew 2-2 and the result saw us go through to the final 16. Euphoria. The crowd were ecstatic, as you can expect from a humble little nation that wasn’t overly highly regarded next to the big European football guns. A massively successful achievement. The crowd were hugging, kissing, lifting each other, belting out the song like nothing I’d ever heard. We are a patriotic nation aren’t we?? And that is such a beautiful thing.

Russia 2018 will definitely be a different World Cup without the likes of 2006 champions Italy and my favourite team with the Socceroos, The Netherlands. Don’t ask me why, there is no allegiance there whatsoever, I just really love their style of play. I’m not a betting girl but every year since I can remember I have placed money on them to win it at the start of the tournament…and they have always gone close.

Italy, well that’s another story. As much as I’m not a huge fan due to THAT penalty in the 2006 World Cup, it almost doesn’t seem right witnessing such an event without them there. After the incident with Lucas Neill, I kept waiting for them to lose a game…but of course they went on to win it that year. I was bitterly disappointed to say the least. Things will definitely be quieter at Club Marconi and Lygon st in June next year. Say what you like about the Italian national team but they are definitely entertaining to watch and great for the world game Even if they are on the ground most of the time.

It was very reassuring to witness 77 000 patriotic supporters at ANZ stadium last Wednesday night cheering on our national team and the Socceroos deserve our support. We need to cheer loud and proud no matter the result and playing amongst the biggest and best sporting giants in the world isn’t a given, it is an absolute privilege that Australia are going to Russia in 2018. We learnt that from the shock exit of Italy, The Netherlands and Chile at next year’s event. We should take nothing for granted. That’s what all Australians must remember and celebrate as a nation. We now await the coaching situation to see if Ange Postecoglou continues to lead the Aussies to the World Cup or if a new coach will be appointed. I personally believe Postecoglou is a great local coach but I also believe if you want to match it with the internationals on a world level, an international coach would be beneficial. Guus Hiddink. Remember that name? But that’s just my opinion.

So I am tempted to go to Russia…as is half of Australia I’m sure. The World Cup experience is exciting to say the least and it’s an event all should witness at least once in their lifetime, given the opportunity…Vodka is also my number one drink of choice so I can’t think of any other reason to justify me going. So let’s get behind our Socceroos, wake up at a ridiculous hour next June, pack out the Aussie pubs and cheer loud and proud because we are elated they will be representing our land down under at the world’s biggest sporting stage in Russia 2018.