Graham Arnold’s brave call to hook captain Mat Ryan and send Andrew Redmayne into the furnace of a penalty shootout paid ultimate dividends when Redmayne’s save clinched a place in a fifth successive World Cup.
Australia beat Peru 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 stalemate in Doha. It was the second time Australia qualified this way for the World Cup, having broken a long drought in 2005 against Uruguay via the heroics of Mark Schwarzer and John Aloisi.
Arnold, who was an assistant in 2005, replaced Ryan in the dying embers of extra time to bring on Redmayne. The Sydney FC replacement was a pest during the shootout, prancing around on the line like a puppet on a string and nicknamed the ‘dancing keeper’ by foreign media.
“Look, Andrew Redmayne is a very good penalty saver,” Arnold said.
“And to try and get into the mind … to add that little bit of uncertainty in their brains. That’s the reason why.”
Australia’s Martin Boyle missed the first spot kick but Redmayne saved the last to set up emotional scenes.
“Completely clutch, Arnie gave him that belief,” said striker Mitchell Duke. “I’m sure Maty would have been disappointed but everyone played their part. I can’t describe this it’s pure ecstasy.”
“Talk about backs to the wall, pressure on the coach, a queue of people waiting to take a baseball bat to the coach,” said Andy Harper on the match commentary.
“A massive acknowledgement to Graham Arnold what he’s had to endure. What a crowning glory. If they didn’t win that it would have been the other side of the coin but the team prevailed.”
Arnold was lost for words before praising his team for advancing after 20 matches – 15 of them played away from Australia.
“I’m just so proud of the players, no one knows what these boys have been through. It was so hard, the whole campaign. It’s one of the greatest achievements ever.
“The doubters don’t bother me, it’s these boys I care for, the game I care for.”
Redmayne said he was told weeks ago he might have this job.
“I’m no hero, I just played my role,” said Redmayne.
“The two, three weeks I’ve been here I had it in my mind. The work’s been done, the homework’s been done.”
“It’s a phenomenal, a massive, massive call,” said former Socceroo Luke Wilkshire. “If he gets it wrong he gets crucified and they don’t go to the World Cup.”
Arnold said it’s time for Australia as a nation to celebrate this achievement.
“I called out Anthony Albanese the other day, to give everyone, give the fans a day off to celebrate this because I believe this is one of the greatest achievements ever, to qualify for this World Cup the way we’ve had to go through things.
“Twenty World Cup qualifiers and we’ve played 16 away from home. It’s been tough but we did it.”