Australia defeats Peru in penalty shootout to book spot at Qatar

Coach Graham Arnold has labelled the effort of the Socceroos to qualify for the FIFA World Cup as “one of the greatest achievements ever” while jokingly suggesting Australia should be given a public holiday to celebrate.

The Socceroos are heading to their fifth straight World Cup, having downed Peru 5-4 on penalties, with replacement goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne the hero, coming up with the decisive save.

Arnold’s decision to replace Mat Ryan with Redmayne for the shootout would have been questioned for years had the Socceroos lost, instead he’ll be lauded forever.

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“Andrew Redmayne is a very good penalty saver,” Arnold said afterwards.

“To try to get him on the mental aspect while we were making that change, to add that bit of uncertainty in their brains, that was, yeah, that is the reason why.”

In 1983 the then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, famously declared, “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum” after Australia II won the America’s Cup. Arnold said the Socceroos achievement rivals that of four decades ago, given the pandemic-disrupted schedule forced upon the side.

“I called out Anthony Albanese the other day to give everyone a day off to celebrate this because I believe this is just one of the greatest achievements ever. Twenty World Cup qualifiers, we played 16 away from home.”

Striker Mitchell Duke was over the moon at the result, but said the shootout left him about to “have a f—ing panic attack.”

“I’ve never been involved in this kind of situation before,” Duke said.

“Full credit to everybody involved, so proud of the boys, we’ve gone the hard way. So many people wrote us off.

“I’m just so proud of the boys.”

Duke also paid tribute to Redmayne, the 33-year-old appearing in just his third match for Australia.

“Everyone played their part. ‘Redders’ getting dragged in for pens (penalties), he’s done unbelievable.

“That was for Australia. Completely clutch. ‘Arnie’ gave him that belief, I’m sure Maty would have been disappointed, but everyone played their part.

“Can’t explain this feeling. It’s complete ecstasy. That was for all of Australia, thank you for believing in us. We’re going to a World Cup. Five in a row.”

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