Australia booked their ticket to the 2010 World Cup here on Saturday but their bruising goalless draw with Qatar will give them plenty to think about as they plan for the big event in South Africa.
The Socceroos, who have two more matches to play in Group A of the final Asian qualifying phase, found the Qataris too tough to handle this time after having won all their previous three matches in the lengthy qualifying process with consummate ease.
Pim Verbeek’s side became the second team to qualify for the World Cup after Japan defeated Uzbekistan 1-0 a few hours earlier in Tashkent.
Australia have 14 points from six matches which includes four wins and two draws while Qatar will have to wait some more years to realise their World Cup dream after a disastrous qualifying campaign under Bruno Metsu that has fetched them just five points from seven matches.
Australia, who needed just a point to qualify, nevertheless had to face tough opposition this time in hot conditions as the Qataris went for broke and created a few chances, especially in the first half.
Australia survived a scare when Uruguay-born Sebastian Quintana was allowed free access into the penalty box in the 18th minute, but his first time shot went across the face of the goal.
The Socceroos failed to put together a decent move that tested the opposition and the Qatari defence managed to easily clear a few testing situations inside the penalty area.
In the 24th minute a Scott Chipperfield shot sailed over the goal and in the 31st Harry Kewell also blazed over the post with his second shot after the first was blocked in the defence.
Thereafter Australia survived several dangerous situations with Qunitana’s shot in the 37th minute off a corner kick flying over the post after a deflection and Talal al-Bloushi finding his effort blocked at the edge of the box.
Australia, who are yet to concede a goal in the final qualifying phase, began the second half with much more intent, but were frustrated by the Qatari defence with goalkeeper Qassim Burhan producing a fine display.
In the 54th minute Chris Coyne’s deft flick off a corner was cleared from the goalline and Burhan produced a fine save three minutes later off a thundering shot by Cahill.
However, both teams were guilty of failing to produce enterprising football and most of the time the players struggled to settle into any rhythm with several fouls being committed.
The Australians then hung on to survive a few anxious final minutes before celebrating their qualification after the final whistle.
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