Sorry, it's another World Cup moment on this food blog, but it's just so incredible: Australia is through to the knockout round and in the last 16 teams!!!
The Socceroos drew against Croatia 2-2 Thursday night in Stuttgart and for the first time in World Cup history we've made it to the second stage. Our Dutch coach¸ Guus Hiddink, who led South Korea to World Cup finals in 2002 was repeating his miracle with the Australian team.
Our poor goalie, Zeljko Kalac, was almost the villain of the evening when he let an easy goal slip past him putting Croatia up 2-1. Kalac, Aussie-born but of Croatian origin, must have felt terrible at that point.
But like their game with Japan, the Socceroos fought back and our international star, Harry Kewell, scored our much needed second goal in the 79th minute!
In Melbourne, some 7,000 people braved the winter weather and gathered at Federation Square at 4am to watch the game. Sydney was the same, with huge screens at Circular Quay drawing a mass crowd in the early hours of the morning. On TV we saw Aussies invading squares in Germany for all night dancing and celebrating. We made it!
But Australia is not out of the woods yet. Next Monday evening in Kaiserslautern, Australia will go up against Italy. Not only are they are strong team but this will cause a lot of friction in Australia since most of the people who brought soccer to our country came from Italy.
As Michael Crockerill from the SMH put it: “And if it was a game of divided loyalties, on and off the pitch, get ready for another test of faith in Kaiserslautern on Monday (1am Tuesday, Sydney time). Australia against Italy, meeting for the first time at full international level, with everything at stake. Norton Street will have never known anything like it.”
It’s true. Leichhardt (Sydney’s Little Italy) will be in turmoil and loyalties will be blurred. Norton Street, the main road and my own street, has been closed every night when either Australia or Italy plays. What will it be like when they play each other???
I'm not a football expert, and I only really pay attention when it's World Cup season, but I have football fever and I have it bad. I wanted to get up this morning to watch the game but I am quite sick (AGAIN) and even sitting in front of this screen to type this entry is taxing. Whinge, whinge, whinge.
Anyway, at 7am I was woken to screaming and cheering and car horns along Norton Street and I knew something momentous had happened. Suddenly my mobile phone was seismically reacting on my bedside table with messages of elation from friends all over the world. I rolled over in bed and, in between sickly coughing fits, I smiled the smile of victory.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie: Oi, Oi, Oi!!!
The photos in this post came from the SMH website.