5. Craig Goodwin’s goal
Forget what happened for the last 70 minutes of Australia’s opening Group D match against France. In that first 20, the Socceroos gave a potent glimpse of what they were capable of in front of goal. From Mat Leckie rolling Lucas Hernandez in the build-up, to Craig Goodwin’s finish that gave Hugo Lloris no chance and left the parochial French contingent at the Al Janoub Stadium stunned.
France responded with four of its own in what would prove to be a false dawn for Socceroos naysayers. Over the next three games Graham Arnold’s men would show they were made of far tougher stuff. And Goodwin got his World Cup goal.
4. That Behich run
Aziz Behich cut a frustrated figure during the Argentina game, angrily barking at a team-mate at one point for not passing him the ball sooner. It was there in his body language, there in his tackling. And it was there when he picked up the ball deep in his own half, deep in the second half. And ran. Perhaps inspired by the individual great standing just metres away from him, Behich left a trail of Argentinians in his wake as he jinked, turned, and accelerated his way to goal. If ever there was a moment that sends a tingle down the spine, it's the sight of an Australian player carving up a team like Argentina. But for a last-ditch tackle from Lisandro Martinez, the goal would have gone down as one of our greatest. The move sparked a stoppage time revival from the Socceroos that almost yielded a match-leveller.
3. Mitch Duke’s goal celebration
If ever there was a maligned member of the Socceroos’ attack, it was the Japanese second division-based Duke. The physically imposing striker doesn’t care for reputations, has an unwavering self-belief and a fierce determination to succeed. Duke speaks the language of Graham Arnold and after scoring the winner against Tunisia, he spoke of something else: sacrifice. The months and years spent away from his young family on the other side of the world, putting it all on the line for an opportunity that, when it arrived via a deflected cross, he took in spectacular fashion.
It was there in the ‘J’ Duke made with his hands – a gesture that was reciprocated in the stands by his young son Jaxson. It’s a now iconic image from this campaign.
2. Mat Leckie’s goal
When Mat Leckie burst onto the scene at Adelaide United in 2010, he terrorised defences with his pace, footwork and speed. Some 12 years later he wound back the clock to score one of the great individual goals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, slaloming through tired Denmark defenders before gently guiding it past Kasper Schmeichel.
Leckie was one of Australia’s standout players in a campaign punctuated by moments of brilliance. This one from the 31 year-old is arguably the pick of the bunch.
1. Harry Souttar’s tackle
One may be forgiven for asking ‘which of Harry’s tackles?’, such was the impact the Stoke City defender had on the Socceroos’ run through the group stage.
When Tunisia forward Taha Yassine Khenissi pounced on a Kye Rowles error in the 87th-minute of their clash, he was through on goal with just Maty Ryan to beat to level the match. At least he would have been, but for Souttar flying across the pitch to produce as significant a defensive moment as we’ve witnessed. Turns out the seven-footer with the coat of arms tattooed on his leg also has ferocious pace and impeccable timing.
A sense of timing that will surely earn him a move to a top European league on the back of a series of career-defining performances in the green and gold at Qatar.