The Australian media swung firmly behind the national football team Thursday despite the Socceroos bowing out of the World Cup at the group stage.
Australia missed out on the second round of the World Cup on goal difference due largely to the 4-0 thrashing they received at the hands of Germany in their opening Group D match.
After launching a tirade of abuse at coach Pim Verbeek and, to a lesser extent, the players after the Germany loss, local media began to warm to the Socceroos following their 1-1 draw with Ghana.
And they were positively glowing after the 2-1 win over Serbia in Nelspruit on Wednesday.
Media has change of heart
“Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant,” wrote the Sydney Morning Herald’s Mike Cockerill, hitherto one of the Socceroos’ most trenchant critics.
“There was to be no salvation in Nelspruit. But there was redemption. The Socceroos are going home, but they’re going with their heads held high. And as a consolation, that’s not to be underestimated.”
Cockerill said the Socceroos had managed to “claw back” some respect from the Australian sporting public.
“It’s the Australian way. You go down fighting, and didn’t they put up a fight?”
David Davutovic, writing for the News Limited stable of newspapers, agreed that Australia had nothing to be ashamed of.
“Getting out of the group phase was always going to be a huge achievement for the Socceroos, who in fairness are not among the best 16 teams in the world,” he wrote.
“Had they gone down in the lacklustre fashion they did against Germany then questions would have been asked of the players and particularly coach Pim Verbeek.
“But they went down swinging and that’s why every one of the Socceroos fans stayed in the stadium well after the final whistle.”
Too little too late?
However, the ABC’s Joel Vander wished Australia had shown that same fighting spirit earlier.
“So where was this in the opening 4-0 embarrassment in Durban?” he asked.
“If only coach Pim Verbeek had instilled some confidence in his charges that they could get a result that day.
“Instead of the meek surrender that we witnessed, we might have seen the fighting Socceroos we’ve become accustomed to.”