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Socceroos shore up hosting bid with latest su -

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Reporter: Michael Vincent

ELEANOR HALL: The Football Federation says the Socceroos qualification for the next World Cup will
strengthen its bid to host the event in 2018. After defeating Uzbekistan two-nil last night, the
national team is just one point away from officially qualifying for the next World Cup in South
Africa.

But some commentators say that the way Australia played in last night's match, particularly in the
first half, shows that the team does have to evolve if it is to succeed in South Africa.

Michael Vincent has our report.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: It is mission accomplished for Australia. The Socceroos surely are on their way
to the World Cup.

MICHAEL VINCENT: The Football Federation says it is not quite time to shower the Socceroos with
champagne.

BEN BUCKLEY: (Laughs) Yes, we've got a bottle on ice but it has not been cracked yet.

MICHAEL VINCENT: FFA CEO Ben Buckley.

BEN BUCKLEY: Whilst we haven't crossed the line and qualified yet, we couldn't be in a better
position so we are delighted with the result and a big congratulations to the team and the coaching
staff and all of the support staff for a great job.

MICHAEL VINCENT: The success of the national team alone will be enough to concern rival football
codes. But the Socceroos' pulling power is so strong that even on a wet and windy weekday night and
with tickets costing up to $110 each -- 57,000 people still turned out to watch the match.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: What a night to remember. The dream is all but a reality.

MICHAEL VINCENT: And as far as Fox Sports commentator and football writer for 'The Sydney Morning
Herald' Mike Cockerill is concerned those watching last night saw Australia qualify for next year's
World Cup.

MIKE COCKERILL: The mathematicians will tell you otherwise. You will never get anyone from Football
Federation Australia saying that we're there. I can tell you we are there. It would take an
incredible sequence of events for Australia to miss out.

We have a nine-point gap over the bottom team. We have a six-point gap over Bahrain who can only
get six points. We have a plus-10 goal difference I think. So you add all that into the equation
and Australia can still lose their last three qualifiers and still feel very confident about
qualifying.

So to all intents and purposes, we are going to the World Cup.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Is Australia playing the style of football that you think the supporters want to
see or is it a pretty much workman-like approach in these games that have got us these wins?

MIKE COCKERILL: I think the latter. Definitely workman-like. Pim Verbeek is a results-orientated
coach and he makes no apologies for that.

The debate that is going on at the moment about the style of the team is the same debate that was
going on in South Korea when he was in charge of their team. That is what Pim Verbeek is. He has
been employed to do a job by FFA and that is to get Australia to the World Cup. He has got us to
the World Cup so mission accomplished as far as Pim is concerned and the debate about the style
will rumble on.

He is not inclined, it seems, to worry too much about the debate or at least pander to that debate.
He is very much focused on the bottom line which is getting results and look, the stats have been
enormous. So we have qualified with three games to spare. We've kept five clean sheets in a row. We
are on top of the group. Ahead of Japan. It is pretty impressive stuff.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Mike Cockerill says the Australian team now has to evolve its attacking options
and coach Pim Verbeek has a year to trial fresh faces.

The current team is largely unchanged from those who played in the 2006 World Cup. Last night's
match didn't include any current players from the local competition though Jason Culina will play
in the A-league next season.

And the FFA needs a strong Socceroos performance in South Africa to help its bid to secure the
hosting rights to the 2018 World Cup which will be decided after next year's event.

Ben Buckley.

BEN BUCKLEY: Having a presence at the World Cup helps in any credentials that we put forward for
hosting the World Cup so we are certainly on the list of things to achieve as we go into the
bidding process for the World Cup so we are not there yet but we are pretty close.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Is that simply a logistical thing? It means if you get to the World Cup it means
Australian officials can then rub shoulders with other officials from other countries and make that
lobbying effort much easier than having to approach them individually, go continent to continent as
such?

BEN BUCKLEY: Less so that than, because those opportunities exist anyway, but less so that than
actually establishing our bona fides and our credentials at being a genuine football nation - a
nation that can sit within the top 30 countries in the world and a country that has got the
pedigree to host the World Cup.

So I think that in 2006 the world of football suddenly stood up and took notice that Australia was
a genuine and serious football nation and to be able to do that and go back to back would certainly
help our cause no end.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Football Federation of Australia CEO Ben Buckley ending that report from
Michael Vincent.