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Socceroos set sights on greater glory in Sout -

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Socceroos set sights on greater glory in South Africa

The World Today - Monday, 8 June , 2009 12:50:00

Reporter: David Mark

PETER CAVE: Australia's national soccer team, the Socceroos, have qualified for the second
consecutive World Cup finals.

The nil-all draw against Qatar early yesterday morning was all that the Socceroos needed to qualify
for the finals in South Africa next year.

Now the team has qualified for the World Cup, the CEO of Football Federation Australia, Ben
Buckley, says Australia is aiming to do better than it did when it made the final 16 at the last
World Cup.

He spoke to David Mark.

DAVID MARK: Ben Buckley, the circumstances in Qatar on Sunday morning Australian time couldn't have
been more different to Sydney four years ago, when of course it took a nail-biting penalty to
ensure that the Socceroos qualified for the World Cup finals in Germany.

But what are the reactions of the players? Were they more subdued this time round?

BEN BUCKLEY: Oh, I think it would be difficult not to be more subdued. It was in front of a very
small crowd. It wasn't in front of 80,000 people at a home venue and a nail-biting penalty shootout
as you said.

So, nonetheless, we're delighted with the result. It's a great move forward again for football in
Australia.

And look, the players are very, very professional, and they took the result with a great sense of
satisfaction and a great sense of pride, and that's the sort of maturity we expect in the sort of
professional outfit they have become.

DAVID MARK: Australia's coach, Pim Verbeek says Australia has to go one better than it did four
years ago, when the team made the final 16. What are the team's aims - and what will you be
satisfied with?

BEN BUCKLEY: Well, I think we've all raised our expectations about what we set out to achieve. No
doubt we took the world by surprise to some extent in Germany in 2006, and I'm sure over the next
few months the coaching staff and ourselves will sit down and plan out the campaign, and set what
we believe to be the right, appropriate goals.

But we're certainly going there with the intent to get competitive, and to make a contest of every
game, and go one step further than we went before.

DAVID MARK: What does the win mean in terms of Football Federation Australia - football in
Australia - and of course, your coffers?

BEN BUCKLEY: Well, I think more importantly than the coffers, it's a great step forward for the
game again. It's another milestone - to reach two World Cups in succession is part of our overall
plan.

I think it helps propel the game into the broader public consciousness, and raise the profile of
the sport, and that helps attract young players to participate. And I guess it's a flagship event -
to be there is a very good thing for the game.

DAVID MARK: You say that, but what can you point to in the past four years, in terms of the way
football or soccer has progressed in Australia. We see with the A-league that attendances are
flagging, and many of the teams are in trouble.

BEN BUCKLEY: Well, I don't accept that. I think that's not looking at the advancements in the
context of where the game has been in the past few decades. I mean, we have a very, very strong
A-league competition. We've got two new teams coming into the competition from the Gold Coast and
north Queensland.

Yes, we had a slight dip in attendances last year, but we're delighted with the way the A-league
has performed over the last three or four years, and the continuing support that the public is
showing for it.

PETER CAVE: CEO of Football Federation Australia, Ben Buckley, with David Mark.