Victory against Serbia was enough for Socceroo fans who braved the winter chill in Sydney, even though Australia failed to advance to the next round in the World Cup.
A few thousand fans huddled around the big-screen display at Sydney’s Darling Harbour as the match kicked off at 4.30am.
One of the screens displayed the simultaneous live broadcast of the Germany-Ghana match, which determined who moved into the round of 16.
“We need to win, that’s the first step, then we’ll worry about what to do after that,” fan Adam Gerakiteys said.
Fans were fairly subdued when the score was nil-all at half time, switching their gazes from one match to the other, keeping in mind that a Ghana win would only help Australia’s chances.
Then Australia scored two quick goals midway through the second half, and a barrage of green and gold erupted with enthusiasm.
Sydney resident Rad Vidovic, 20, was born in Serbia but moved to Australia at the age of 10 with his family.
His devotion was split between both countries, but watching Australia score was difficult for him.
“In every other sport, I go for Australia, but soccer – I was born there, so it’s tough,” Mr Vidovic said. “I’ll be happy to lose to Australia but to no one else.”
2-1 win not enough
Fans kept up their enthusiasm as Australia held on for a 2-1 victory, but Germany’s 1-nil defeat of Ghana sent the Socceroos packing.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” Peter Green said. “I don’t want to bag ’em out, but it’s not been up to the standard we needed.”
Ashli Jacky was satisfied with the win and acknowledged that the home side had improved from its devastating 4-0 first game loss to Germany and its 1-1 draw with Ghana.
“They did their best – that’s all that matters,” Ms Jacky said. “From the first game to this game, they’ve come a lot further.”
Nestor Manuelian remained loyal from the beginning to the end and beyond.
“A win’s a win – we’ve gone off on a winning note which is great,” Mr Nestor said. “Unfortunately, the result did not go our way, but what can you do? We’re Socceroos, regardless of whether we win or lose.”
Schoolgirls Anastasia Pappas, Jackie Nicholas and Vinnie Daniele, all 15, woke up at 2.30am to watch the match, before going to school at St Scholastica’s College.
If they just had one more goal, I reckon they would have gone through,” Ms Pappas said. “They nearly scored in the last bit, but it was a good game and we won, and that’s what counts.”