On Tuesday, the last ticket to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be in dispute as Costa Rica and New Zealand confront one another on the pitch in Doha.
Australia’s substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne blocked a last penalty to secure his country’s spot at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, reaching a 5-4 in an intense shoot-out in doha.
Both teams drew 0-0 for the first 90 minutes of the intercontinental qualifying playoff on Monday, opening the way for extra time and penalties in front of a packed stadium.
Redmayne, brought in by the Australian coach as the match approached its penalty kicks, saved the to-be fifth penalty from Alex Valera and sealed his country’s now-sixth successive World Cup appearance.
Cheers erupted as Australia managed to block Peru’s sixth penalty at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan.
The Australian winners, 42nd in the world rankings, secured a place in the Group D opening match against France national football team on 22 November.
Peru, 22nd in FIFA’s list and the team responsible for Australia’d 2-0 defeat at the 2018 World Cup group stage games, received a warm welcome by over 10,000 fans, most of whom had flown to the Gulf nation halfway from around the globe for the qualifying match.
At the stadium, Peru fans visibly filled up a much larger portion than their Australian counterparts.
After slotting what would be the eventual winning penalty against Peru, Australian team’s winger Awer Mabil said: “I knew I was going to score. It was the only way to say thank you to Australia on behalf of family,” according to reports.
“I scored, a lot of my teammates scored, everybody played a part and maybe that refugee kid played a big part.”
Mabil was born in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. His family had fled the civil war in Sudan, moving to the camp where he spent the first 10 years of his life. His family’s refugee status in Australia was approved in 2006 and he moved to Adelaide to pursue his dream of being a football player.
Meanwhile, Australia Coach Graham Arnold said he nearly “quit” as his team went faced various obstacles to reach the Qatar World Cup, however he felt “obliged to repay his players for their sacrifices,” Reuters reported.
Facing health challenges, Arnold tested positive for Covid-19 twice in three months in 2022, while also losing the services of a number of players due to the coronavirus.
It was the isolation from his squad that made matters difficult for the Australian coach, Arnold confirmed.
“My style is man management and getting the best out of players and doing things face-to-face,” he said.
“Trying to do meetings and talk to the players on Zoom meetings, it’s not my style, I don’t like it and I didn’t like it at all.
“I’ll be honest, there were times where I nearly walked away because it’s not my style of coaching […] the only reason I didn’t walk away was because of the players, their sacrifices they’ve made.”
31 out of 32 teams have qualified for the World Cup 2022 so far, with the match between Costa Rica and New Zealand on Tuesday determining the last team to win a ticket to this year’s major tournament.
Wales also secured its spot at Qatar 2022 following a victory over Ukraine in a 1-0 match earlier this month.