Inspired Neill credits team spirit
Qantas Socceroos captain Lucas Neill has spoken of his pride at leading his nation to a second FIFA World Cup appearance at a packed media conference in Sydney this afternoon.
SYDNEY: Qantas Socceroos captain Lucas Neill has spoken of his pride at leading his nation to a second FIFA World Cup appearance at a packed media conference in Sydney this afternoon.
The Qantas Socceroos arrived back in Australia by a large throng of local media and fans, following their qualification sealing stalemate against Qatar in Doha on Sunday morning (Australian time).
Neill, who has worn the captain-s armband on each of the eight occasions he has contributed to Australia-s twelve World Cup qualifying matches to date, has been among the Qantas Socceroos- most impressive in recent times and looms as a key figure at next year-s finals in South Africa.
Currently the subject of transfer speculation that suggests an end to his time at English Premier League challengers West Ham United, Neill pointed to Australia-s strength of mind as reason for the Qantas Socceroos- clinical performances that have seen them confirm their participation in South Africa with two matches to spare.
“The one thing that Australia has had since we started playing football is good spirit, character and desire to want to do well for Australia,” said Neill.
“What-s happened recently is that we-ve been thrown up challenges such as arriving the day before a game and mentally we-ve been thrown challenges that we-re not used to.
“Because of our character, because of the team that we have, we-ve been able to take those challenges head on and beat them.
“That-s what has come out of us, we-ve become more resilient and with a little bit of tweaking from the management and from the coaching staff we-ve become a team that is not only 100% committed to their country when they-re playing, but they also have a little bit of nous and like to be a team that is difficult to beat.
“We like to go out now and if we can-t win games, we definitely don-t want to lose them.”
The quality of the Qantas Socceroos- defence has not been in question throughout the World Cup qualification process, with Australia amazingly yet to concede a goal in six fourth round qualifying matches.
In fact, the only goals that Australia have conceded on the path to South Africa have been in matches that didn-t feature their captain - all during last June-s quick fire four-match schedule during which time Neill was by his partner Lindsey-s side awaiting the birth of twins.
Neill will be absent against Bahrain at Stadium Australia on Wednesday through suspension, opening the door for fringe starting eleven members Chris Coyne, Adrian Madaschi, Mark Milligan, Jade North and Matthew Spiranovic to state their claims for a World Cup squad places.
Such competition will only serve to improve the Australia's chances in South Africa, where Neill hopes to see just as many Australian supporters fill the grandstands in Johannesburg and Durban as they did in Kaiserslautern, Munich and Stuttgart four years ago.
“Last time we were in Germany it was magnificent, I think Australian people are still talked about on the streets of Kaiserslautern and some of the memories that they left behind, so why not have as many as we can again,” said Neill.
“I-m sure they-ll come out in force and it-s up to us to make sure they can stay there for more than the first two weeks.”