A delighted Craig Foster praised the tactical gamble of Graham Arnold to substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne in for their penalty shootout victory against Peru, with a spot at the FIFA World Cup on the line.
After a tense 120 minutes of football with few chances for either team, the coach opted to bring on his former No.1 at Sydney FC for the spot kicks – withdrawing captain and first-choice keeper Mat Ryan.
Peru’s third spot kick smacked into the post, while Redmayne saved their sixth – which sent Australia to the World Cup.
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“The decision by Graham Arnold and his coaching staff to bring on Andrew Redmayne was a very, very brave one – you’re replacing Maty Ryan here!” Foster said on TODAY.
“It’s tremendously courageous.”
It was just Redmayne’s third appearance for the national team – and he well and truly made the most of it.
“To go into this situation and to do so brilliantly, so calm, all of his theatrics … what a great response,” Foster said.
The Socceroos were the more dominant of the two sides, and the only one that had an opportunity to win the game in regulation time with a couple of late chances – although Peru woke up a little bit in extra time, hitting the post late on.
“Australia were better, thoroughly deserved to go through,” Foster said.
“They stopped Peru playing, they’re a very fine side who finished fourth in last year’s Copa America – it’s a really outstanding performance.”
Australia will now move on to the tournament proper in November, where they will face France, Denmark, and Tunisia.
Australia qualifies for World Cup after qualifying thriller
The first two of those opponents were also in Australia’s group four years’ ago – where Les Bleus stole a late win, while the Socceroos played out a tough draw with the Danes.
“It’s a very good step forward to be there again – we need to go there and learn,” Foster said.
“This is our fifth-consecutive, and what’s important is that each time, we try to go beyond.”
Although making the tournament is nice, Australia haven’t won a match at either of their last two tournaments. Their last win came in 2010 against Serbia.
“The last couple, we haven’t done that, and the last couple, we’ve really struggled even to take this step to get there,” Foster said.
“Whilst this morning is wonderful, there’s still a lot of questions around Australian football that we need to ask; what does the future look like, how should we be going there to play in order to try and go past or at least make the round of 16 as we did in 2006?
“How do we replicate that? How do we continue to improve, grow, and learn to one day lift this mighty cup, both male and female, I might say.”
Foster noted the next year was a glorious chance to continue to grow the game, with the men’s team now punching their ticket to Qatar and the women hosting the 2023 tournament.
“To have a seven month period with the Socceroos playing and then the Matildas only mid-next year is really powerful for the game.”
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