By Josh Kempton
Former Australian goalkeeper Clint Bolton is cautious about declaring a new age of Australian football on the back of an excellent effort at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Socceroos defeated Tunisia and Denmark to progress to the round of 16 but were defeated 2-1 by Argentina on Sunday morning local time.
Bolton, who played for the national team on four occasions between 2000 and 2006, said the team should be extremely happy with what they achieved.
“I’m just proud, really, really proud about the way this team conducted itself on the field,” Bolton told Sports Breakfast.
“In the short term, it will instill us, Australian football people, with a lot of pride.
“We get knocked around quite a bit, particularly within our own country, so it instils a bit of pride back into this community of Australian football.”
While Bolton thinks Graham Arnold’s side can leave Qatar more than satisfied, he is cautious about looking past the short term.
“There’s a lot of people with a lot of grand statements about what should happen beyond this, this should be the starting point for something else, but I’m not someone who’s going to make any grand statements because I’ve been here before,” he said.
“Think back only to 2006, when John Aloisi scored the [penalty] and then we went to the World Cup and did really well there … what’s the lasting legacy of that? I’m not sure.
“Then you think about 2015, we won the Asian Cup in our own backyard, what’s been the legacy beyond that? I’m not sure there has been.”
Graham Arnold’s side came into the tournament with low external expectations but matched the achievement of the 2006 ‘Golden Generation’ by progressing through the group stage.
“You can’t compare squads' talent wise, there’s just too big a differential, but because of that, this achievement is better than 2006,” he said.
“2006 was just a long time coming, the big gap between appearances at World Cups, so that was momentous because we got there,
“It’s hard to believe or even conceive this journey has played out the way it did leading into the tournament, because I, like the rest of us, had realistic expectations about the team.”
The team has now departed from Doha to return to their club sides, with Australian-based players flying into Melbourne and Sydney tonight.
IMAGE: The Canberra Times.