GALLERY: One shot Kennedy sends Australia to World Cup

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By , 10/08/2019 12:21

AUSTRALIA 1 IRAQ 0
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Surely it wasn’t going to be one of those nights.

Surely this wasn’t going to be one of those games, a match where one team has almost all the posession, virtually all the chances – and still can’t finish the job.

For all of the first half and much of the second of a game upon which hung so much of the short term future of Australian soccer, that’s how it looked.

Until a late, dramatic intervention from the bench, an 82nd minute winner from substitute Josh Kennedy, that broke Iraqi resistance and ensured that Australia will, after all, be going to the ball, the biggest party in global sport. The World Cup in Brazil, 2014.

Given the problems they had in breaking down such an inexperienced and youthful Iraqi side, it is a legitimate question to ask whether this current, ageing iteration of the Socceroos will make much of an impression when they get there.

But, in these circumstances, that would be churlish and an inquiry for a later day.

Suffice to say that it is mission accomplished, but only just.

German Holger Osieck might not be as much of a gambler as his Dutch predecessor but one, Guus Hiddink, nor might he have the inherent fortune of ”Lucky Guus”.

But the Gods smiled on him in this starred arena for the Socceroos as he rolled the dice, replacing talismanic Tim Cahill with the lanky Kennedy, who had sat on the bench throughout the draw with Japan and the win over Jordan.

Cahill made his displeasure at the decision plain, but the coach was in the end vindicated in the only way that counts.

This was always going to be a night where the result was all that mattered, with the performance secondary.

The Socceroos huffed and puffed, sweated and strained, pushed and pulled, but could not blow the Iraqi house down even though it often appeared to be made of the flimsiest of construction materials.

It seemed that Australia, crammed full of players of vast experience, might in the end be the men of straw, not the callow youths of Iraq who grew in confidence as each moment passed and each Australian attack was repelled.

For Iraq, who fielded five teenagers in a starting eleven with an average age of 20.9 _ a full decade younger than their hosts _ this was a game in which there was nothing to lose. They didn’t throw caution to the wind, but they didn’t sit back behind the ball either.

Initially they were overwhelmed by the physicality and drive of the Australians, who began at a rapid pace in search of the early goal they knew would put them in the ascendency.

How Australia wanted one, to settle nerves, dim the optimism of their youthful opponents and ensure the game was stretched from the outset.

On any other night save one where the stakes were as high as this they might have got it.

Cahill, so long and so often Australia’s saviour had a great opportunity in the third minute but was denied by Iraqi goalkeeper Noor Sabri. The 28-year-old would have been a virtual youth were he playing for Australia but in what was, in football terms, a pre-pubescent Iraqi line up, the shot stopper qualifed as the senior man.

Robbie Kruse showed a week earlier in Melbourne that he was one of the Socceroos brightest hopes for the future, a lithe, jinking figure blessed with pace and balance, happy to run at opponents or create space for others. He tried his utmost to galvanise the stuttering attack again, playing one twos and making forward runs, but all to no avail.

Big defender Sash Ognenovski ventured forward, combining with Lucas Neill. It would have been one of the more unlikely goal and assist combinations in Australian history, but it remained a longed for hope for rather than actual footnote when Ognenovski’s header flashed over the bar.

The clock ticked, Australia tried to build patiently, but still the goal wouldn’t come.

The pace lifted in the second period. Emboldened, the Iraqis threw men forward searching for a goal that would have sent shockwaves round this crowded arena.

A big complaint against Osieck is that he has put his faith for too long in the senior men and not trusted to youthful exuberance enough

The lumpy pitch, which hosted a rugby league game two weeks before, was doing neither side any favours, but the reality for Australian fans, as their team toiled in search of the goal they so desperately hoped for, was beginning to dawn. This was no foregone conclusion.

A big complaint against Osieck is that he has stuck too long with his senior men and not built for the future, failed to put his trust in the exuberance of youth.

Certainly his younger brigade _ winger Tommy Oar and Kruse _ looked liveliest as Australia took the game to Iraq, and when the ineffectual Brett Holman made way for Tommy Rogic with half an hour to go the man widely regarded as the future creative force for the Australian game got his chance to change the course of history.

For one glorious instant it looked as though Kruse had delivered, his drive from the edge of the penalty area scorching into the net, but the ”goal” was disallowed for a foul in the build up.

Osieck rolled the dice and threw all his cards on the table. And in the end it was a man whom he had ignored through much of the campaign who delivered when it mattered most. The end justified the means. Three World Cups in a row is an achievement any nation can be proud of.

AUSTRALIA 1

IRAQ 0 at ANZ Stadium.

Crowd:80,523.

Referee: Faghani Alireza.

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Joshua Kennedy of the Socceroos celebrates a goal at ANZ Stadium. Pictures: GETTY IMAGES

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GALLERY: Socceroos on their way to Rio 

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By , 10/08/2019 12:21

THE Socceroos will be going to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after clinching a dramatic 1-0 win over Iraq at ANZ Stadium on last night.
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The hero of the night was Josh Kennedy who, in his first Socceroos appearance for 19 months, headed home the winner from Mark Bresciano’s pin-point cross after 82 nerve-wracking minutes.

Until that point, Australia was headed for the unthinkable as Iraq – in an incredibly gutsy performance – managed to stave off their best efforts. Holger Osieck’s side clearly had the better of the occasion but genuine chances were few and far between, and the majority of the 80,523 felt they were about to witness a return to the painful botched qualification nights of decades past.

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Dallas Kilponen

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Dallas Kilponen

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Dallas Kilponen

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Dallas Kilponen

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Dallas Kilponen

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

The surge of emotion around the stadium at the full-time whistle was as much relief as jubilation, such was the situation faced by the Socceroos barely 10 minutes before.

When Kennedy’s header floated past Iraqi goalkeeper Noor Sabri, the entire team – including the whole bench and support staff – drowned the towering striker in a sea of bodies by the corner flag.

It will be remembered as one of this nation’s defining football moments and served as fine reminder of why the Socceroos’ mental strength, which came to the fore final stage of qualification, is their greatest asset.

The Socceroos appeared to have clinched the lead when Robbie Kruse bulleted home a volley with 25 minutes to play but the referee disallowed the goal, controversially paying a foul against Sasa Ognenovski for an earlier infringement.

As expected, Osieck selected the same line-up for the third straight match, having kept faith the team who drew 1-1 with Japan and defeated Jordan 4-0 in Melbourne.

Australia pinned Iraq on the back foot from the opening whistle and nearly scored in the second minute when a Kruse interchange with Tim Cahill gave the latter a chance off his left foot but Noor Sabri saved brilliantly.

The Socceroos were clearly in control by the time Lucas Neill, somewhat bizarrely, set up Ognenovski, only for his defensive partner to head over the bar.

However, while the Socceroos were pushing forward, they still hadn’t found a way to breach the stubborn opposition being put up by Iraq.

If anything, one had to be impressed at how composed Iraq seemed, despite having five teenagers in their starting side. In particular, the central midfield combination of Khaldoun Ibrahim and the 19-year old Saif Salman was holding up very well. Within a minute of the second half resuming, the Socceroos showed their vulnerability when Salman lashed an effort from range that Mark Schwarzer could only gather at the second attempt.

The rain began to tumble around the Olympic venue and a cheer went up on the hour mark as Osieck brought on Tom Rogic for Brett Holman.

Frustrations were starting to boil over and when Kennedy replaced Cahill in the 78th minute, he shared words with Osieck.

Cahill waved away the coach after his explanation for being substituted.

Osieck followed up with another change a minute later, bringing on Archie Thompson for Kruse.

It would be his last tactical roll of the dice as the Socceroos went to three at the back.

But just as it seemed the night would end in disaster, Bresciano picked out Kennedy, and the Socceroos were finally on the road to Rio.

Re-routing risks of WestConnex project via taxpayer lauded

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By , 10/08/2019 12:21

Industry groups have welcomed the state government’s decision to fund the first stage of its $10 billion WestConnex motorway before seeking private sector investment to help complete it.
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The O’Farrell government has set aside $1.8 billion for the project, which will link the M4 to the M5 via Sydney Airport and Port Botany.

In a significant departure from the traditional model for public-private partnerships for large infrastructure projects, traffic usage levels will be established before private investment is sought.

This means the state will shoulder all the initial risk and once it can be shown that motorists will use the road at a particular toll level, it will opened to the private sector to invest.

The earmarked funds are to be spread across four years, with $111 million next financial year – plus $29 million for related preparatory works – followed by $413 million in 2014-15, $629 million in 2015-16 and $647 million in 2016-17.

It is likely the first work – by a government-owned company – will be widening a section of the M4, on which a toll will be reintroduced.

Once traffic patterns are established, the state-owned company will then be able to borrow against toll revenue forecasts and eventually raise private funds.

Brendan Lyon, the chief executive of peak industry group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, said a model that used earlier stages to help pay for later stages ”has got a lot to commend it”.

”Provided [the government is] aware and awake to the additional risks that are being taken on … then I think that this really does start to look like something that’s both achievable and do-able,” he said.

The decision to shift the initial risk from the private sector back to the taxpayer also reflects the difficult history of privately funded projects. The Cross City Tunnel and the Lane Cove Tunnel went broke due to inaccurate traffic forecasts.

Treasurer Mike Baird said the global financial crisis had significantly changed financial markets.

”We have seen a marked reduction in both the amount of the private capital available and the level of risk the private sector is prepared to take,” he said.

The budget papers said raising money from the private sector once traffic volumes were known ”can significantly reduce forecasting risk”, which would in turn lower the project’s cost of capital. The business case for the project is yet to be finalised, a point seized on by the Greens and Labor, who warned the taxpayer could end up taking on all of the risk of a project still shrouded in uncertainty.

A total of $14.6 billion was allocated to public transport, roads and maritime services, and infrastructure in the next 12 months.

This includes $806 million for the north-west rail link and $353 million for the south-west rail link, and $133 million to support the rollout of Opal, the new integrated ticketing system.

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Kangaroos raise enough for minimum payments

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By , 10/08/2019 12:21

The $800,000 raised by North Melbourne at a special fund-raiser will enable the Roos to pay the minimum salary cap required under the AFL rules this year.
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The Kangaroos raised the funds at a function for wealthy backers at Parliament House, when AFL legend Leigh Matthews spoke – along with coach Brad Scott and other key North officials.

The club has confirmed that some of the money raised will be used to bring its total player payments up to the minimum of 95 per cent of the 2013 salary cap of $9.14 million.

While the club already has contracts in place, chief executive Carl Dilena confirmed the club was looking at a ”pre-payment” – in effect, paying some players next year’s wages – in order to bring the club’s salary cap up to the minimum requirement.

The club’s 2013 salary cap is about $900,000 below 100 per cent of the total player payments it could pay – so the pre-payment could be taken further to open space in the future, allowing the Roos to not only retain players but to bid for free agents and other out-of-contract players from rival clubs – a luxury that it has found difficult due to financial restraints.

The club has been focused on debt reduction, as Dilena said, but the function at Parliament House on June 5 was about providing the club with more funding to enable it to compete in football department spending – particularly in player payments, where it has been some distance below the stronger clubs, which typically pay about a million dollars more than the Roos – not counting Sydney’s $900,000 cost of living allowance.

Last year, the minimum salary cap was 92.5 per cent of $8.79million. There has been a steep increase, not only in the salary cap but of the capped additional services agreements, which rose from $613,000 to $852,000.

Matthews, who coached Brad Scott in their days with the triple premiership-winning Brisbane Lions, told the audience of about 70-80 supporters of the Shinboner Club how the Lions had needed funds to retain their list during that period and North Melbourne would have greater success by increasing its spending on players.

Dilena said Scott’s wish was for the club to pay 100 per cent of the salary cap, which was consistent with the debate about equalisation measures.

Increasingly, there is a view that small clubs must seek to pay 100per cent of the cap, particularly when those poorer clubs are in the position such as the Kangaroos, who are highly competitive and a finals aspirant.

Scott, Dilena, president James Brayshaw and club conditioning guru Steve Saunders also spoke at the function, with Saunders telling the audience how the Roos had managed to have the lowest injury rate over the past two seasons.

Dilena said the club was ”changing the flavour to investing in footy”, moving from debt reduction to increasing its football spending, particularly on players.

North’s switch follows the example of Richmond, which established its fighting Tiger fund with a view to achieving both of those objectives – closing the gap in football funding and reducing debt.

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Call to keep Medicare Local CEO Mark Foster

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By , 10/08/2019 12:21

Dr Mark FosterHUNTER Medicare Local staff and members are calling on the board to reinstate outgoing chief executive officer Dr Mark Foster whose contract is not being renewed.
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It is understood that 250 staff and members have signed a petition asking for the return of Dr Foster, who has been CEO for six years.

His contract was due to expire on June 30 and the board’s decision not to renew it, made public on June 5, was said to come as a ‘‘big surprise’’ to many, and raised the ire of staff and members.

A formal request from representatives of staff and members to address the board at today’s monthly meeting about the decision, and what they describe as a lack of confidence in chair Karen Howard has been refused.

Ms Howard confirmed on Tuesdaythat the board had received feedback from some members about Dr Foster’s departure and the response would be discussed at today’s meeting.

“The board appreciates that the departure of a CEO, particularly someone of Mark’s stature, is an extremely sensitive and emotive issue,’’ Ms Howard said.

‘‘Ultimately any decisions must be taken within the context of what is in the best interests of the whole organisation and the decision was unanimous.’’

A doctor and long-time member of Hunter Medicare Local, who did not wish to be named, said there were concerns the organisation was being taken in a more ‘‘commercially driven’’ direction.

‘‘Members are upset about the loss of leadership and they are questioning the board’s decision,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s been very successful and a big part of it has been having very strong leadership, particularly clinical leadership … so there’s a concern that the change in direction will effect the future of some very successful programs, such as the after hours clinical services.’’

News of the division coincided with yesterday’s launch of a federal government website (www.medicarelocals.gov.au) providing information about Medicare Locals nationally, which espouses the successes of the Hunter Medicare Local as ‘‘ground breaking’’.

Ms Howard said that work would continue with the help of an increase in federal government funding for many programs through to June 30, 2016.

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