DOHA: Mark Viduka, Lucas Neill, Mat Ryan.
That’s it – that’s the full list of every man who has captained the Socceroos to a World Cup victory.
After the superb 1-0 win over Tunisia, Ryan spoke to reporters and in typical fashion, heaped praise on those around him.
“I’m just super proud – it were a collective effort from the get-go,” he told reporters afterwards.
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“We just left it all out there on the park, and that’s the objective every game we play, but somehow we took it to another little level today and I can’t fault the effort from everyone – it’s what dreams are made of.”
But while the win was great, there are always ways to improve – the first 75 minutes were immaculate from Australia, but a few sloppy mistakes in the dying stages invited plenty of pressure as they clung on for dear life.
“We’ll enjoy it, but we’re by no means satisfied with where we’re at,” he said.
“I think there was a few moments, a couple of throw-ins where they sort of caught us napping a little bit.”
Tunisia pushed hard for an equaliser as anyone of an Australian persuasion who wasn’t on the pitch stared nervously at the clock – most notably when a slip from Kye Rowles invited Yassine Khenissi through with nobody in front of him, bar the goalkeeper himself.
Of course, what happened next with Harry Souttar’s tackle was a fantastic moment that won’t be forgotten, but the Socceroos would have much preferred it to never have been needed at all.
“There are areas we need to improve on, in those moments,” Ryan said.
“Obviously through no fault of our own through communication with the noise with the fans and all that you just can’t hear one another but we’ve just got to be aware that when the ball goes out of play, we don’t switch off because you can still get punished in any moment.”
Next up is Denmark, with a draw likely enough to send the Socceroos to the last 16, and a win making it absolutely certain.
Graham Arnold has repeatedly talked about the work ethic, attitude, and ‘Aussie DNA’ of his players, and they look to finally be getting their rewards.
The captain does not doubt that they’ll be able to go again.
“It’s a collective effort from everyone,” Ryan said.
“The guys that unfortunately didn’t get on, they’re the ones pushing the other guys that did get a start today, competition for spots, there’s so much detail that goes into it from the whole collective squad that gets us playing in the way that we are and it’s that sort of environment that allows us to perform at our best and make days like today possible.”
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