New York Red Bulls DP Tim Cahill bound for Brazil as Australia edge Iraq to book World Cup place
It was a tense affair for the Socceroos and their fans, but Tim Cahill and Australia beat Iraq 1-0 in Sydney on Tuesday to reach their third straight World Cup, booking a berth in Brazil 2014 via a second-place finish in Group B of Asia's fourth round of qualifying.
Iraq are the group's bottom dwellers and they fielded a very young lineup against the Socceroos. Yet the visitors nonetheless held firm until the very end, as it took an 83rd-minute winner from substitute Josh Kennedy to sooth the nerves of the 80,000-plus Aussie fans in attendance on a rainy night at the ANZ Stadium.
Kennedy entered the match in place of Cahill in the 79th minute, prompting a frustrated reaction towards head coach Holger Osieck from the New York Red Bulls Designated Player.
All parties were all smiles after Kennedy's header clinched qualification, however, as coach and player alike joined in the wild celebrations among the Socceroos and their home fans.
Had Australia failed to win, it would have opened the door for third-place Oman to sneak ahead of them with a road victory over Jordan later in the day.
The third-place finishers in the Asian Football Confederation's two fourth-round groups play a home-and-home series in September for the right to meet South America's fifth-place finishers in an intercontinental playoff.